Visiting other congregations

Church Windows

Each student is expected to make a minimum of two visits to other congregations over the course of confirmation. The purpose is to get you thinking about how worship demonstrates a congregation's core values and beliefs. By visiting with other congregations, the comparison is also intended to help you understand your own congregation's practices, as well as identify marks of denominational groups. 

This assignment has been a mainstay of my confirmation teaching, with an assumption of in-person worship. We are in unprecedented times, and online worship has become a regular part of many churches. This has challenged congregational leaders trying to translate their typical worship experience, so not everything will be the same as say, two years ago. Still, we can learn a lot from examining online church and asking similar questions.

Assignment

1. Visit another ELCA Lutheran congregation 

2. Visit a non-Lutheran congregation 

3. In the next couple months, make a visit to any other congregation by participating in or observing an online worship service. 

While you are there to observe and possibly take notes, be courteous. Participate in the worship service. 

Some questions to get you thinking about what to pay attention to. Review these before visiting. 

A lot of these examples are going to be specific to in person worship. 

Were you welcomed? 

What is the music like? Old fashioned or newer? Does the congregation sing? Are there musicians featured? 

Were there hymnals, paper bulletins, projected words, a combination?

What did you notice about the worship space? Stained glass, paintings, sculptures, paraments (cloths on the pulpit and altar), how people sat (pews, chairs) where the leaders were located........

Who read the scriptures? Were there many readings? How did the preacher relate to readings for the day? 

Anything special happen that day like a baptism, a special offering or a visiting presenter or musician? 

Were children present in worship or in a separate "childrens' church?" What elements of the service were specifically for kids? Were young people part of the worship leadership? (greeters, readers, musicians, acolytes...) 

How much did this "feel" like the church you know best? How similar or different? 

Anything really different that you never saw at your church? Altar calls? Speaking in tongues? Incense? Snake handling? (Yes that is a thing, but very rare. But if by some chance you ever find a legit snake handling church, tell me right away!)