Relying on the Holy Spirit
Author: Beate Zipperer
Translator: Anne Zipperer
A church service in Mennonite churches seldom takes a fixed liturgical form. But that doesn't mean it has no pattern. Really, it means that the congregation relies on the work of the Holy Spirit. The life and practices of a church are as different as the people who shape it. There are both charismatic and pietistic types of communities.
There are different forms of church service, prayers and music styles. Differences in culture, tradition and personality of the church members influence the spirituality as well as the shape the church service eventually takes. But it can't be denied that communal prayer and music making is the central part of all church gatherings. The easiest way to show the pattern of our church service is to divide it into three parts:
Fellowship with God
We come deliberately to God, to praise and to thank Him. This part is the beginning of the service: Welcoming the congregation to the service, praying and singing together, and other elements like reading a text, performing a theatre piece, or giving a testimony to bring the congregation in the presence of God.
We listen to God and let Him speak. In this part appointed preachers (theologians and lay preachers) will expound on God's Word through a sermon.
Fellowship with one another
We take an active interest in each other and in what happens around us. We partake in the Lord's Supper together. Blessings and shared experiences about God's work in our lives belong in this part, as well as information about the church in general and about worldwide concerns. This part mostly ends the Sunday church service.
Live fellowship – grow in faith – live faith
‘Food keeps body and soul together’. This German saying is not only true for an individual but also for the living fellowship of the congregation. So in many congregations it is common to eat together. After the church service you are invited to have coffee and cake. At special events like a baptism the whole church has lunch together. It is also possible to practice fellowship in different small groups: a choir, an acting group, gatherings for the elderly and more. To grow in faith and to live that faith
is easier through sharing experiences.