The Sunday Service is our primary time for the church family to come together and worship God. We believe God calls us to live in community with one another and that meeting once a week is an important part of that. Sometimes we worship through music and dance, sometimes there is time for reflection and quiet, sometimes we talk and sometimes we listen but always we seek to grow in our relationship with Jesus. If you miss a week you can listen to the sermon online.
We hold communion on the third Sunday of each month. Once everyone has had bread we offer the wine (non-alcoholic). We ask you to keep your individual glass full until everyone has been served when we then drink together. As well as offering bread and wine we also provide grapes for the children or anyone who would prefer to participate in this way.
During worship, flags and banners are available for anyone to use during the songs and we often incorporate child friendly songs with actions. Sometimes we also have dance presentations which has included: break dancing from the children, all age group dance choreographed as part of the church retreat and expressive, worshipful dances from different members. Claudine, who often dances in worship, says “the art of Worship is expressed in many different ways and Spiritual or liturgical dancing is one way I choose to worship God. I believe spiritual dancing is a way I’m able to connect with and express my faith and belief in God. It’s a way that I’m enabled, through the Holy Spirit, to reach and connect with God’s people through music and movement. Here at LUFC we encourage freedom of worship as we aim to bring glory to God in all that we do. So why not join us for Sunday worship as we experience God’s love together and through the medium of dance.”
Drama, puppetry and storytelling
Jesus loved to teach using stories, parables that allowed those listening to understand the characters and be challenged as event unfolded. Indeed, the Bible is full of stories of people trying to live Godly lives and sometimes being wonderful examples for us to follow and sometimes missing the mark. At LUFC we believe that the narrative is a wonderful way to engage with the scriptures, bring the characters to life and think about how they relate to our modern society. We use a variety of mediums to do this. Sometimes we use Ignatius Spirituality, an approach which invites the whole congregation to imagine they were there – which character can you identify with in the Nativity or can you feel the wind and the waves from the boat as Jesus walks on water. Sometimes the narratives will be improvised during the service with individuals invited to represent certain characters and occasionally people (with or without the assistance of puppets!) will prepare drama sketches or monologues to bring the theme to life. Church is not a theatrical production but exploring the narrative is a great way for all ages to engage with scripture.
We sing an eclectic mix of Christian worship including modern songs, traditional hymns, Taize and Celtic refrains, songs from other cultures, children’s songs and occasionally songs composed by our own congregation. Our worship group usually compromises piano, guitar, bass guitar, flute and singers. Anyone who plays or is learning an instrument is welcome to join the worship group for one song or a whole service. Words for songs appear on screens located around the church but hymn books and / or large print words are available on request. Every Sunday includes a welcome chorus, a tradition our previous minister brought back from her sabbatical in Jamaica; this is a song we sing through together once and then have a time to greet each other by hug or by hand shake while the worship group continues to play.
Each service includes a time for the main teaching or reflection on the Bible passage which is usually a time to listen as the preacher brings the themes to life with a sermon or talk lasting about 15 minutes. In family services and on other occasions the main teaching section might be delivered in a more interactive way such as through group discussion or with the support of props, drama or video.
During the service there are usually two or three times set aside for prayer, including prayers of forgiveness, prayers of thanksgiving and prayers of intercession when we pray for others; sometimes the congregation is asked what they would like to pray for prior to the prayer time or sometimes responsive prayers are used with the congregation responding at set points (often with words on the screen).
Prayer times are usually led by those leading the service. Group prayers such as The Lord’s Prayer and The Grace are used in most services (the words of which will appear of the screens for anyone who is unfamiliar with them).
There is a Church Prayer Board and prayer slips located on the chairs and members are invited to write any prayer requests on the slips, indicating what follow up they would like (e.g. a pastoral visit from the minister or to be included in the prayer letter which is circulated to the congregation). After some services the minister will remain in the chapel and offer one-to-one prayer for anyone who comes forward.
We will not force you to pray in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable so please do not feel like you have to participate in any prayer that you don’t believe or that you don’t find helpful for your spiritual journey; however if you would like additional prayer support please speak to the minister.
The offering is taken as part of each service. This is a chance for our members and friends to financially support the church and the work it is doing.
Some of the money is spent on maintaining the church building, employing the minister and other staff and buying resources while other money is given to the charities the church supports.
Special Appeals and Thank Offering
As well as our regular offering we occasionally collect for other causes. In the past this has included:
* Thank Offerings historically linked to harvest time, an offering where we are just as interested in your talent and your time as well as you money
* special appeals to respond to natural disasters or other situations around the world – this is usually donated through another organisation such as Christian Aid or Islamic Relief depending on who is working in that area
* sponsorship for members raising money for charity.
How much should I give and do I have to give?
Some people choose to tithe and give a set percentage of their income to the church while others give what they can afford. There is no set amount, how much you give is a decision you must make with God considering your own circumstances. If you request it a member of the church leadership team could talk to you about this but we will never pressurise you into giving anything if you are not able or willing.
If you are a visitor to our church we do not expect you to give during the offering unless you would like to. If you are not putting anything in the collection please pass the bag to the next person or indicate ‘no’ if you are at the end of a row.
There is no pressure to give if you cannot afford to, nobody is checking how much you give, we will not approach you about this or tell anyone else about your giving. It is not possible to tell by looking whether someone gives nothing or gives a lot via their bank account or only puts in the collection once a month. This is purely between you and God.
How can I give?
Five ways to give:
1. Put loose money into the collection bag
2. Put cheques to ‘Leytonstone United Free Church’ into the collection bag
3. Place money in a Gift Aid envelope in the collection bag, this allows us to claim back extra money from the taxes you have paid.
4. By weekly / monthly / one off bank transfer (standing order or direct debit) with or without additional gift aid.
5. With Easy Fundraising – give as you click
Please speak to our treasurer if you would like gift aid envelopes and use the gift aid form where appropriate.