What to expect when you visit The River…
First off, we consider you a guest, not a visitor. A visitor is someone who knocks on your door uninvited. A guest is someone invited and prepared for – someone important.
When you arrive it’s very likely that a few people will greet you. We’re a pretty friendly bunch, but not in that weird religious way where you feel like the greeters are being paid to be nice.
There are refreshments in the welcome area: coffee, water, and cookies. You’re free to grab what you’d like and take it to your seat. We aren’t uptight about crumbs or spills (not that we encourage them).
You’ll notice that people are mostly dressed very casually, including the pastor who wears jeans most Sundays. Our focus is on the heart, not the outward appearance. Simply wear what you feel comfortable with, whether that’s a suit and tie or jeans and t-shirt. You’ll also notice that there are people of every age and color. We value diversity. No matter what, you won’t stand out and we won’t make you stand up and introduce yourself!
After the opening, we worship God together as the praise team plays contemporary worship songs. People are encouraged to have an encounter with Jesus and this includes freedom to express yourself with lifting hands or kneeling, or however you feel led by the Spirit, as long as it’s not disruptive to others. We have some very talented musicians and singers but their focus is on glorifying Jesus, not performance. If you come to our Saturday night service that is geared for the millennial generation, you should expect the music to be a little louder than on Sundays.
After the worship, we share some announcements and take a 5-minute break to say hi to friends and meet new people, hit the restroom, refresh the coffee and that sort of thing (you can stay seated if you prefer). At this time, if you’d like to make a financial gift there are baskets located around the building. We don’t pass an offering plate or talk much about money. The River is debt free without ever making a fuss about money. God provides!
After the break, the kids and youth go to their respective classes (we have something for every age group) and the adults stay in the auditorium for the teaching of God’s Word. The teaching lasts about 35-40 minutes and is very practical in nature. The pastor always prepares a written handout that you can take home and study on your own. The focus is on learning the Word and growing in our relationship with God. The messages are simple to understand and are normally prophetic in that they speak to people’s hearts. One note, if you attend the 8:30 service, there are no kids classes available due to the service being shorter than the main service at 10:00. Also, if you don’t prefer larger crowds, the 8:30 service has fewer people in attendance. But everything else (worship, teaching, prayer) is included at 8:30.
At the conclusion, we have an opportunity for people to receive prayer and ministry. We are a church that believes in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have seen many miracles and healings as people respond to the Word of God in faith. We normally pray a prayer of dismissal before people come forward for prayer so that staying for ministry time is optional. We realize people have busy lives and therefore try to be sensitive to people’s time.
When people are ready to get involved with ministry, The River has a whole bunch of ways to serve and help including feeding the homeless, recovery ministry, evangelism, kids ministry and many other ways to serve. You can stop by the Next Step station to get information.
We hope to see you at The River soon. Why not this weekend? Saturday at 6pm and Sunday at 8:30 & 10 on Highway 191 in Safford, Arizona.