For those that aren’t familiar with what we get up to as church, it can seem a strange place at times, with new words and expressions to learn and activities going on that don’t tend to crop up anywhere else. Hopefully as you read through this, you’ll get an insight into some of what goes on, and maybe an answer to a question you have always wondered…
Q: What do I wear to come to church?
A: Clothes. We have no dress code other than that, so wear whatever is comfortable. For some, this may involve a shirt and tie, for others jeans and a t-shirt. We’re more interested in you as a person than what you are wearing. We tend to be more casual than you would perhaps expect.
Q: I don’t really know anything about church/the Bible/God/when to sit or stand/etc. but I’m curious – am I still able to come along?
A: Yes. We are all on a journey and wherever you are on that you are welcome to come along. We try to make things as easy to understand as we can, but if you come along and there is anything you aren’t familiar with then please ask. We will try and ‘signpost’ what is going on in a service, but if you want to just sit quietly at the back and observe then that is fine as well. We believe that whoever we are, however long we have been ‘doing church’ there is still more to learn.
Q: Do I have to pay to come to church?
A: No, there is no payment required to come along to church, we don’t even take a collection during our Sunday services (although there is a box at the back if you want to make a donation). The church is a registered charity, and is funded through the members of the church who see it as part of our commitment to God and the church. We don’t receive funding from any other places (apart from the occasional grant for a specific purpose).
Q: What is the difference between chapel and church?
A: This will be different between different Christian denominations/traditions, but the simple version is that within the Baptist movement the church is the people and the chapel is the building they meet in. We believe that we don’t have to be in a particular place/building to ‘be church’ but that when we do have a regular place to meet then this is called a chapel. This does get muddied though, and often the terms get used interchangeably. Essentially, Lavendon Baptist Church meets in the chapel.
Q: Why does the building say Lavendon Union Chapel on the outside?
A: The union chapel is so named because it involved a few local churches coming together to form one church that met in one ‘united’ place, hence the Union Chapel. In Lavendon, the Union Chapel was the home for Christians from Baptist, Methodist and Congregationalist backgrounds.
Q: Do you do Christenings/Weddings/Funerals/Baptisms/Etc.?
A: Yes to most of those. Rather than a formal Christening service we do something similar but a little different. What we do can go by a few different names (Infant Presentation/Dedication/Blessing/Thanksgiving/Etc.) but essentially is a part of a service where parent(s), family and friends can give thanks for the new life and we can all pray for their future and journey through life. This is different from a Christening as we don’t do the baptism element of the Christening, as we believe that it should be up to the individual concerned to make the decision about whether they want to be baptised as a Christian and be part of the church. Weddings and Funerals are what you would expect, although with more flexibility over the service. Baptisms for us are called ‘Believers Baptism’ and are in response to someone deciding that they want to be baptised as part of their Christian life (rather than as a baby with the parents deciding). Be baptised involves being submerged under water as part of a special ceremony.
Q: What is communion?
A: We normally celebrate communion together during the first Sunday of each month. This is a part of the service where we eat and drink in a short ceremony that remembers what Jesus did for us when he died on a cross. As part of the last supper (the meal Jesus shared with his friends and followers the night before he was arrested and killed) Jesus told us to eat bread and drink wine as we remember him. The bread represents his body and the wine his blood (although we tend to use juice). This ceremony has different names in different churches/traditions – you may hear the terms Eucharist, Mass or Communion but they essentially refer to the same thing.
Q: Are kids welcome?
A: Yes. On a Sunday, we run a kids club upstairs in the chapel while the main service is on. It isn’t compulsory to go to that, we’re happy to have children in the services and we know that kids are kids and will make noise/fidget/etc. The acoustics in the chapel do mean that if little ones are getting noisy it can be difficult to hear what is going on. There is the room next door to the chapel that you can head into if you are feeling particularly self conscious about the screaming/tantrums/etc. but we understand what it is like and they are still welcome. We also host a baby and toddler group on a Thursday morning, and have good links with the village school.
Q: Is it OK to just come to a special event and not every week? (eg Christmas carols, Remembrance Day, etc.)
A: It is. While we would love for you to be able to join with us on a regular basis and build a sense of belonging, there are no obligations when you step through the doors. We’re happy to see you, whether that is once a year or every week.