I know – it’s not easy visiting a new church for the first time. You might feel like a fish out of water. Do I belong here? Am I really welcome? Will the people be unfriendly? Or too friendly? Am I welcome if I’m not yet a Christian?
As Senior Pastor, I want to make sure your visit to MPC is an enjoyable experience – easy, stress free, and encouraging. We want Mitchelton Presbyterian Church to be a church people love inviting others into… and it will only be like that if people like you love to be our guests! The fact is, almost half the people you’ll meet in our 10.30 service are new to MPC in the last few years, and quite a number had no church background.
When I visit a new church for the first time, I like to know what to expect, so here’s a brief overview.
We have four services on a Sunday – family services at 9.00am and 10.30am, Youthchurch at 4.30pm (during school terms – see youthchurch.info), and Latechurch at 7.00pm (see www.latechurch.com).
When you arrive at MPC (on Ruby Road, just a couple of blocks west of Brookside shopping centre) for the 10.30am service, you’ll sometimes find the parking lot is pretty full, with people leaving from the earlier service, and others arriving. We encourage our regulars to park around the corner in Blackwood St, or in the Railway car-park (also in Blackwood St) so there ‘ll be plenty of room for newcomers in our own parking lot… but sometimes we forget! Parking along Ruby Rd is not recommended – road rules say you should be at least 3 metres from the centre line of the road. Take care!
Outside the front door, you’ll see our Newcomer’s Tent. There’s some info here, and a gathering place for visitors to enjoy a cappuccino after the service. At the door, someone will say hi and hand you the weekly bulletin and a Bible. Hopefully, you’ll be identified as a newcomer and helped with any questions you have. (We have newcomers every week, and it’s easy to miss a new face in the crowd, so please introduce yourself.) If you have children, you’ll need to sign them in for Kids Church – families stay together for the first part of the service, and kids leave for their program after about ten minutes. There’s a baby care room at the back of the auditorium on the Ruby Rd side, and a toddlers creche area near the disabled toilets on the railway side. Meryl, our kids ministry co-ordinator, will be happy to help you.
If you have highschoolers, we have plenty for them to be involved in. Apart from Youthchurch (4.30pm Sunday) there are Youth socials each month and also each small group has an active and exciting social program. Contact our Youth Pastor at email@example.com for more info.
Our weekly bulletin contains the week’s announcements, as well as an outline of the bible talk, with some space to take notes if you like. There’s also a green, tear off slip, which is an easy way for us to get better acquainted; you can ask for any kind of information or assistance, make comments, and leave us your contact details. If you’re looking for a church home, or simply want to know more about mpc, indicate on the form, drop the form in the green box at the door, and we’ll get in touch – or simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to make contact.
Our 9.00am service aims to start right on time, and runs for around 55 minutes. The 10.30am service may sometimes start a little behind schedule… feel free to grab a coffee and join in morning tea with the early service crowd if you arrive early. We encourage people to use these few minutes before formalities begin to chat – and especially to say hi to anyone new. We strongly believe “church” is about gathering for fellowship and encouragement!
All our services are designed to be simple and straightforward. Our 9.00am service is a little more traditional, while our 10.30am service is contemporary. Each service features songs, prayer, announcements, a bible reading and a talk. Our goal is to keep everything pretty much in plain English. If you haven’t been to church much, and you’re not comfortable singing, feel free to just listen. All our music, whether modern or old, is to designed to ‘let the word of Christ dwell in us richly as we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God.’ (Colossians 3:16) In other words, we sing songs that say what the bible says, and focus on Jesus.
That’s the goal of the weekly Bible talk too. We work through whole books of the bible, one section at a time. That means you won’t find the preacher choosing favourite “hobby horse” passages. It also means we tackle the tough bits of the bible as well as the popular bits, and that issues are handled in the same proportion as they come up in the bible. At all times, though, our focal point is Jesus, because we’re convinced that “all the scriptures” testify about Him. (Luke 24:27)
Our mid-week ‘Growth Groups’ are a vital part of church life. If you’re wanting to get to know people and really feel part of the MPC community, joining a group is an essential starting point. If you’re joining us at the start of the year, fresh groups are always starting, so you can soon be part of a brand new group. Email (email@example.com) and we’ll help you find a group through the year.
A word about finances. Our support comes completely from our committed regular attenders, so if you’re still looking for a church, or if you’re simply investigating the Christian faith, we want you to be our guest. There’s no pressure to give. During the collection time, it’s a great opportunity to say hi to the people sitting around you – don’t feel compelled to put anything in the plate! (Besides, these days most regulars give by direct bank transfer, so you won’t be alone in not using the plate.)
After the service, we hope you’ll stay around, meet some people and enjoy morning tea. Again, if you’re new we’d love you to head out to the newcomer tent and join us for a first class coffee. It’s a good way to meet a few regulars, and others who are just starting out at mpc.
That’s about it. People often tell me they feel comfortable and “at home” at MPC. I hope that’s your experience too. Please take the opportunity to introduce yourself to me – I’d love to meet you, and help you take your first steps at Mitchelton Presbyterian Church.