What happens on a Sunday Afternoon?
Sunday morning is the focus for church life. Here's our usual pattern:
2:30pm Sunday school classes for adults, youth and children - during school term time only.
3:45pm Church service for all
This pattern is a little different from that of some other churches. We begin the afternoon with Sunday School classes. Then, having enjoyed refreshments together, we gather for church. We encourage whole families - including all but the youngest children - to do church together. Thus, there are two things you may notice about Sunday afternoons at Immanuel if you're a newcomer...
Firstly, we're together for quite a while on Sundays! Some folk just come to the church service. But most of our regulars get stuck into the whole afternoon, coming along to Sunday School at 2:30pm (term time only) and not rushing away in too much of a hurry when the church service finishes at 5pm. There's great variety within each Sunday, plus good opportunities to grow friendships with other church members. Overall, we enjoy making more of the Lord's Day.
Secondly, most children stay in church throughout the service. Our church services are not dumbed down in any way. And we do provide a staffed creche for the youngest children to use during church if they need it. But we encourage whole families - including our children - to do church together if possible. Of course, children can make a bit of noise and they do wriggle... and we are completely fine with that!
Why do we follow this model of Sunday School followed by Church service? Here are three reasons:
1. Grown-ups (as well as children and youth) need age-appropriate teaching
Our adult Sunday School class is a really important time. There are areas of Christian doctrine, practical Christian living, church history, evangelism and apologetics that we can cover during this class which wouldn't be possible to touch on during the main church service. It's a key time for going deeper in our knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. We want whole families to do church together
Church-gatherings in the Bible seem to have been assemblies of all God's people. One advantage of encourgaging little ones to join in with their families in praise, prayer and listening to the Bible is that they will grow up having caught the habit of church. It won't be a new or alien experience for them when they reach teenage years.
3. It helps those who teach our children and young people
The leaders who run our youth and children's Sunday School classes are able to be at church themselves. We expect a lot of those who teach the Bible in any capacity in Immanuel. But this is one important way in which we can care for our leaders - by enabling them to join with all God's people in gathered worship.