What is it like to come to St Francis church for the first time?
Coming to any church for the first time can feel a bit daunting. If you would like someone to accompany you on the first time please phone 538487 and we will make sure someone is able to either give you a lift or meet you at the entrance.
What should I wear?
At St Francis church there is no dress code. Some people come very smart in their "Sunday best" and some come very casually in jeans and a t shirt. You are welcome however you come!
Where should I sit?
You can sit anywhere in the main section or you can sit around one of several cafe tables at the back of church.
What if I don't know what I believe?
We are all at different stages of the journey. Some people at St Francis have been Christians for decades and some have followed Jesus for just a few months. There are also some people who are part of our church who are exploring the faith and have not yet come to the place of making a commitment to follow the way of Jesus. So whatever stage you are on and whatever your level of knowledge and understanding of the things of faith you are welcome at St Francis.
What if I don't think I am good enough to come?
The good news of Jesus is that even though none of us are perfect he accepts us, forgives us and welcomes us! As a church we seek to demonstrate this attitude in the way that we welcome everybody whatever their background or life situation. We are all at different stages in getting our life sorted. None of us are perfect and we genuinely want to welcome people to join us on the journey of being forgiven and gradually learning to live a life that honours God more and more.
What happens at the services?
As you come into the main entrance to the church you will be welcomed with a smile by some people standing at a welcome table. Here you will be given any service sheets, song books or sheets and any other relevant information for the service. If you need a large print sheet please ask for one at the welcome desk. If you have problems with hearing we have a loop system so please switch your hearing aid to the t setting.
After being welcomed you will then be directed into the chapel if it is a mid-week service or an early morning 8.30am service. At 10.30am service many people choose to go through into the cafe for a breakfast before joining others in the hall at just before 10.30am. There are no special seats so you can sit wherever you like!
The service begins with an extra welcome from the service leader. Important notices about up and coming events and activities are highlighted before the service formally begins.
Standing sitting or kneeling??
As we pray we are often seated. As we sing we often stand. But there are no set rules! If you would rather stay seated the whole time that is fine. If part way through a song you either feel that you would rather sit or kneel that is absolutely fine too.
On a Wednesday 9.30am service and at 8.30am Sunday service we usually sing one song near the beginning of the service. You are free to join in with the singing or just listen to the words.
At 10.30am service there is usually a small band and some singers that help lead the congregation in song. The words for the songs are projected onto a screen so that the singing is a bit like a big karaoke! If you have trouble with your eyesight or if you think you will need to sit down to sing please ask for a song sheet at the welcome desk. We sing two or three songs near the beginning of the service You are free to join in with as much or as little of the singing as you feel comfortable with. We sing another song after the sermon and after communion. The songs and hymns express something of the truths of the bible and of the faith. They are often an expression of how many people feel towards God. The songs may be like prayers, statements of truth about God or words of praise and thanks for things God has already done or is going to do.
The Bible readings and Sermon
Someone will read out a small section from the Bible then the service leader or preacher will talk about the passage. Their job is to help us all to understand it more clearly and offer ways of applying it to our life. The bible, when understood well is a great guide for living. Those that seek to apply the teaching and principles of the bible to their everyday living find that they live a more effective and fruitful life. At the end of the talk or sermon there will be opportunity to respond to the message. This often takes the form of a time of reflection and prayer.
This is simply a short time of praying for the needs of others. This is locally, nationally and internationally. We pray because we have found that prayer makes a difference and releases God's power into situations.
At communion services there is something called"the peace." This is a part of the service where before sharing bread and wine we make sure that we are all in good relationships with one another so that we are united as we share communion. We also share th epeace because it is also a good thing to wish God's peace on someone. What usually happens is that the service leader says "may peace of the Lord be with you" and the congregation respond with " and also with you." Then people greet each other with a handshake. Some people who know each other really well may give each other a hug. Someone may say to us"the peace of the Lord be with you" and we respond "and also with you".
If you are new to church there is no expectation that you give anything in the collection - you are our guest! Please feel free to let the plate pass by you. We take a collection because church does not get any government funding we have to pay ourselves for the upkeep of building and for any events and activities we do in the community. Some people choose to give through a standing order in the bank and they will let the plate pass by. Some give through numbered envelopes and some put money on the plate. There is never any obligation for anybody to give and there is never any set amount that people told to give. The Bible encourages generosity and it also encourages people to give cheerfully what they themselves have decided to give.
This is the high point of the service for many people. It is when we remember all that Jesus has done for humanity through his life and sacrificial death. When we share the bread and wine at communion we remember that his body, symbolised by the bread, was broken for us on the cross. We remember that his blood, symbolised by the wine, was spilled for us on the cross. This sacrifice, Christians believe, has gained for them freedom, forgiveness and hope.
Some special prayers are said by the service leader to remember events from the life of Jesus and to set aside the bread and the wine for the special purpose of remembering Jesus' death on our behalf. When the prayers are finished people will be invited up to the altar rails near the communion altar table. If you have been baptised and want to receive bread and wine just put your hand out ready to receive. If you would rather just receive a short prayer of blessing bring your service sheet at well. Often some people bring their service sheet up and put their hands out to receive the bread and the wine and a prayer for blessing, strengthening or healing. If you would rather stay in your seat and not go up for communion that it fine too.
At the 10.30 service during communion if you would like someone to pray with you about a specific situation there are people at the back of the hall who will sensitively listen and pray for you.
At the end of the service the service leader prays a short prayer of blessing over the whole congregation and then people are invited to stay for tea or coffee and the chance to get to know each other better.