It’s not easy visiting a new church for the first time. Sometimes you feel a little awkward. Do I belong here? Am I really welcome? Will the people be unfriendly, or too friendly? Will I be conspicuous? Will it be easy to leave if I don’t enjoy it? Will they ask me for money? Will my kids enjoy it? Am I welcome if I don’t think the same?
As the pastor, I want to make visiting the Vineyard an enjoyable experience that is stress-free and relaxing… and even fun! Many of the folks here at the Vineyard were in the same place as you not long ago, visiting the church for the first time themselves. So, what can you expect when visiting the Vineyard? Let me give you a brief overview….
As you arrive at the Vineyard, you’ll see a number of signs telling you where to turn in from the main road. Once parked, you will also see signs that tell you where to enter.
As you walk in, you’ll likely bump into some friendly people (we call them “hosts”) who will greet you, offer you a program of the service (bulletin), answer any questions you have, and direct you to the café area where you can grab a cup of coffee and a bagel before the service begins.
If you have kids, they’ll also let you know about our Sunday School classes and nursery (which are also well-marked with clear signs). If your kids are more comfortable, they’re welcome to attend the adult service with you, but if they’re up for it… they’ll likely have a great time in their age appropriate classes! My two girls really love Sunday School each week.
Our Sunday School ministry (called “Vineyard Kidz”) is led by a fantastic group of people completely committed to teach and reflect God’s love to the kids. “Vineyard Kidz” begins after the first song of worship comes to an end. At that time, we’ll dismiss the kids to their classrooms. Currently, Vineyard Kidz is for all kids up through 9th grade.
You’ll soon notice that everyone is dressed comfortably, in anything from “office casual” to jeans and sneakers. We want everyone to come as they are, so dress however you feel comfortable.
The service begins at 10am. After that first, someone will come up to welcome everyone (don’t worry… we wont call you out!). After that, my Associate Pastor (Clint) and I will run through some of the things going on that week at the church.
From there, I’ll begin what is typically a 35-minute message from the Bible. I do my best to make the messages interesting, enjoyable and relevant to daily life… often including interesting quotes from contemporary people, songs or movies. If I do my job right, you’ll hear timeless truths from the Bible that make sense for today’s world. And hopefully, you’ll laugh at times and maybe feel a tug at your heart too.
After the message, Clint will typically come up in order to invite people to reflect for a moment on how the message might intersect with their lives. People are free to sit, stand, or even come to the sides where we have trained “ministry team” folks (both men and women) who will be happy to pray for whatever you’d like. All this is done in a non-hyped, discrete manner.
From here, we will begin what is typically a 25-30 minute worship set. This is a great time to reflect and worship through some wonderful music played by our worship team. The words to the song will always appear on the large 12’ screen above the stage. It’s at this time that our kids are sent back to their parents in order to participate in the worship.
The service almost always ends by 11:30am (and believe it or not, the time will fly.) If you’re able to, feel free and stick around a few minutes… meet some people and enjoy some coffee. Church is about God and worship, but it’s also about community, so it’s our hope that people really experience warmth and friendliness here.
Well… that’s about it. People constantly tell me that they really felt comfortable… that the Vineyard was a warm and friendly… very welcoming place. “At home” are the words I hear most frequently. So… I hope you’ll stop by this Sunday!