Every Sunday, innumerable churches open their doors to the public and gladly invites everyone to fellowship with them. A lot of church-seeking folks and adventurous people will definitely attend.
But, how do they know what they’re walking into, things like what will the clergy talk about, the kinds of people who attend the church and most vitally, the things they believe in.
Hallelujah Magazine helps you on that with our weekly Church Service reviews dubbed His House Review.
With this, we share the unvarnished truth about a church from the perspective of an outsider, paying particular attention to its History, Doctrine, Reception, Punctuality, Service proceedings, Offertories, Praise & Worship and any other things that may come into the surface during our visit. This will help churches to better understand how to reach outsiders and grow in a major way.
So, in our second church visit (last Sunday) they welcomed us to the life and ministry of the City Presbyterian Church in Harare, a Christian denomination described as a thriving community of believers ‘developing fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ’.
So follow as we unravel our experience at the church.
The City Presbyterian Church is a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church In Southern Africa, (UPCSA) which was formed and made up in 1999 as the outcome of the union between the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (RPCSA) and the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (PCSA). The church is one of the antiquarians in the country as they planted it in 1903, following the first Presbyterian congregation which was founded in 1896 in Bulawayo.
Presbyterianism is historically a confessional tradition. The Church has a strong view of the majesty, power, and omnipotence of God. This informs many things they do. Their worship is reverent and seeks to focus their hearts and minds on God. They believe God works in peoples’ hearts in God’s own timing and therefore they do not try to orchestrate the when’s and how’s of people’s salvation.
The belief in a sovereign God is also foundational to the difficult and often misunderstood doctrine of predestination. Predestination states that God chooses people first before they ever even think about responding to God. God’s choice and the believer’s response complete salvation, according to them.
They believe in the Bible and use it as the unique and authoritative guide for how to live and what to believe. Their sermons on Sunday try to explain and interpret the Bible rather than the preacher’s latest ideas.
They do not have many ceremonies and rituals because they do not want to distract from the two most important sacraments Christ left to the church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
When we arrived there were two men standing at the entrance welcoming people and giving them the program and the hymnal books. When we left, it was elder Chikomo and a certain woman who led the service throughout, (perhaps called the organiser,) who now stood at the door, handshaking people and wishing them good.
Praise & Worship
The first part of the service was a series of English hymns and prayers being facilitated by various people. They sang the hymns with a foreign piano backdrop.
There was also a stellar performance from the Voice of Liberation band who performed three songs including the worshipful Makatendeka Jesu and another a reggae-esque song. We loved how they played around their vocals. It was soothing.
They do services in English but of course, people could pray in Shona, except for the Lord’s prayer which they sing in English.
The church was not thronged but the number of attendees was quite convincing to tell that the church is still popular.
During the service, two notable young men led the hymns and prayers, one who seemed to forget the words to say and the other one who had a funny foreign accent, whether made up or real.
We learnt that confessionals or testimonies can be done in person or done email.
They prayed for the sick and wished Happy birthdays to members who are/were celebrating one this month. Yes, that is such a family thing.
Presbyter Christian Chikomo shared the word from and he extracted it from Acts 13. His sermon was themed Judging Yourself Unworthy. A powerful and charismatic preacher whose knowledge of the Bible is nothing less than profound, Chikomo spoke for ten good minutes, emphasising believers to hold on to the goodness of Jesus Christ even when confronted by detractors. One quotable thing he said was that the essence of salvation is that it has nothing to do with you, it has everything to do with Jesus.
They concluded the church with what they refer to as charge and blessings.
They give a collective offering which is then blessed afterwards and they also do pledging. However, like the Christian Science Church, we reviewed earlier, there is no competitive giving. Believers give what they have or say, want.
The atmosphere was a bit dense when we arrived, but with the Voice of Liberation performing, people singing the birthday song and Chikomo’s rabble-rousing sermon, it created an aura of liveliness and lessened the amount of the perceived nonplus cultism.
The church is really devoted to developing the next generation of Christians and nurturing them spiritually. They are large enough to offer an array of programs for individuals and families and yet small enough to know each of the members personally.
And yes, one word that best describes this church family would be “community”.