It was a blessed Sunday morning when I made my way into St. John Missionary Baptist Church (SJMBC) which is located in Illinois and attend the Christian worship service of the day. The external appearance of the church was very classic. The brick rectangular building was designed in a revival style which made it more attractive. Upon my entry into the church, I was a little bit surprised. The church had a sound atmosphere with appealing flowery decorations of white and red curtains all over the walls and the priest’s podium.
It was well furnished and flowers were arranged in a chronological manner with a red carpet on the floor. The church was wide enough and accommodated lots of congregations who sat on nicely arranged in-built seats. Just before I could make my way to the seat, one of the ushers gave me a warm welcoming. He shook my hand, handed me a copy of the order of service and then led me towards the seat. I was impressed with the utmost hospitality and felt being at the best of my comfort in the house of God.
The general order of service captures the whole week from Sunday to Saturday. Focusing on the Sunday service order, it is divided into two main parts i.e. first and second service. The first service is meant for youths. It starts with the Enrichment session from 9:00-10:00 am which is basically for Sunday school children and then followed by UJAM session for the adult youths from10:00-11: am (Butler, Wacker, ; Balmer, 2007). The second service which is regarded as the main one then follows as from 11 am and starts with sanctuary worships before it is preceded by a sermon from the priest, offering sessions and final conclusion of the service at 3:00 pm.
The SJMBC congregation participates in the church service through praises and singing of the worshiping songs. Praise and worship team leaders lead the congregation in singing the chorus of the choir. During the worship, certain gospel music is also played, accompanied by drum-sets, piano and guitar tunes which make the service livelier. The praise and worship songs are meant to exalt God (Holmes, 2006). The church congregations through worship songs express their love gratitude as well as being thankful for the glories of the Lord. Honestly, the praise and worship songs that were sung were so impressing and I could not hide my joy during the service.
It was now a now time for welcoming the visitors. Fellow worshipers were now walking around, greeting each other and accompanying visitors by their hands to the front podium where the clergies were seated. The visitors were to greet the church congregation who could not hide their happiness too and introduce themselves before being welcomed officially by the church priest. The congregation demonstrated resilient love towards each other. Also, they treated visitors with utmost respect. This indeed impressed me so much.
The priest then led the congregation in the word of God i.e. the sermon. The man of God ministered the teachings of God, passing messages and giving instructions designed to shape the characters of worshipers that they may remain to make their daily lives pure. Significant attention was laid in this session since the word of God was considered the most important during the service (Blanchard, Bartkowski, Mathews, ; Kerley, 2008). The priest took approximately one hour presenting powerful spiritual messages to worshipers, touching the innate souls of many, I included.
The service then shifted to an offering session in which the congregation presented their gifts, tithes, and contributions in the offering baskets privately. The priests prayed for the offerings and requested everyone to join the prayers articulating for their needs. The service then ends with a general prayer from the clergy, followed by handshakes as worshipers make their exit from the temple.
To conclude, St John Missionary Baptist Church is one of the best places of worship that I would recommend for every Christian longing to serve God. The church has a well-outlined order of service, with an enormous congregation who really makes one enjoy and feel the presence of the lord. The church has a gifted and powerful priest who speaks inspirational messages that transform the daily lives of believers. The praise and worship team leaders contribute tirelessly to ensure that the songs to be sung during the service are very inspiring. By attending this church, I learned a lot of living skills on how to relate well to people and make a true believer. The strong messages from the priest gave me a wider scope of thinking regarding the purity of the soul.