What should we expect during a typical church service?
Basically, here's the four biggies you need to know:
You will notice a mix of attire at church services depending on the rurality of the congregation and/or the degree of poverty in the community. En general, the church culture is modest in regard to clothing. There is variance among the young and old members. As we are guests and want to be respectful, please avoid wearing t-shirts, spaghetti strap shirts or short skirts. Pants, including blue jeans, are fine for men if they are in good condition. Slacks or skirts are appropriate for women.
Praise and Worship
Each congregation has its own leaders, personality, and worship style. Some are very formal while others are more relaxed. Some may augment worship with instrumental music; some sing entirely a capella. Some leaders may want visitors to lead a song, a prayer, pass Communion or address the congregation briefly.
Worship is not conducted in English and the mission does not provide translation for the worship service for the benefit of the visitors as this prolongs substantially the worship time. Please do not ask bilingual team members to translate during the service as this is distracting for the church members.
Communion is usually grape juice or wine and flat bread prepared by a sister in the church. Visitors may be hesitant to participate but are encouraged to do so. At times the number of visitors overwhelms the supply of communion bread or wine. One way to help reduce the shortage is by teaming with a friend to share the same Communion cup.
A good rule of thumb for giving in another country is to give no more than the local church member is able to contribute. This avoids any temptation by church leadership to “borrow funds” from the collection in the aftermath of a financially gainful visitor Sunday. In this setting, an offering of U$S 5.00 is appropriate.