How To Attend a Christian Megachurch Service

The large membership and evangelical worship styles of so-called megachurches, with attendance in the thousands, can be confusing to those raised following more traditional forms of Christian worship. Here's how to get acclimated.

Instructions

  • TIP: The order of the second half of the service, consisting of the sermon, the offering, and communion, may vary from place to place.
  • Step 1: Give to the offering if you want to. You are not expected to give money unless you are a member.
  • TIP: You may find a sermon outline in the church bulletin, which the greeters will have given you.
  • Step 2: Listen to the sermon, which may last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Pastors usually work through a book of the Bible or preach on a certain topic, such as love or money. Remain seated and silent unless the pastor indicates otherwise. In some churches it is appropriate to say "amen" after a particularly moving moment.
  • Step 3: Take communion, if you have come on one of the rare Sundays that it is offered and you wish to do so. Dip the bread in the wine then eat it. There is no bowing, kneeling, or crossing yourself required.
  • TIP: In Protestant megachurches, any baptized Christian may take communion.
  • FACT: The largest megachurches in the world, found in South Korea, have Sunday morning attendances of more than 250,000.
  • Step 4: If you're interested in getting involved with the church, fill out the visitor information section in the bulletin you received when you walked in. A member will contact you.
  • Step 5: Services end differently depending on the church. Sometimes an altar call may round out the service, while other times it comes to a close with announcements, when any post-service activities will be mentioned.
  • TIP: Follow your neighbors as to when to stand and when to sit; few people kneel, though it is permissible.
  • Step 6: Worship will usually last for about 45 minutes. Traditional denominations will have a hymnal or order of worship, while most non-denominational churches will have words projected onto a screen.
  • Step 7: Procure a car or a ride with someone else. Most megachurches are in the suburbs and therefore hard to reach by foot, bike, or public transportation.
  • Step 8: Dress properly. You will find both casual and dressy looks at megachurches, but in general casual wins out. For men, this means jeans or khakis and a button-down shirt. For women, a top with jeans, pants, or a skirt is acceptable. Don't wear a t-shirt.
  • TIP: A church with an average Sunday attendance of at least 2,000 is defined as a megachurch, though any church with these numbers won't advertise itself as such.
  • Step 9: Head to the church and park. Follow the directions from the people clad in orange vests. If you are a first-timer or are bringing a guest, ask for visitor parking.
  • TIP: If you have to park far away from the main buildings, there's usually a shuttle bus that runs between the church and the lot.
  • Step 10: Pray silently or mingle with those around you until the music starts, signaling the beginning of the service.
  • TIP: Ask the greeter about separate centers for small children and teens.
  • Step 11: When you get to the church, look for a greeter, someone assigned to welcome you and help you get where you need to be; they usually have nametags and big smiles.
  • Step 12: Find out where the church is located and when the service times are. You can find this information on the church's website or by calling.

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