Have you ever wondered what the inside of a Baptist Church might be like but not dared to go in? This Virtual Baptist Church Tour is for you! If you want to, you can also take a PhotoTour of Teddington Baptist Church Centre.
Click on anything in the picture of the church to have it explained. The text you will see in this window describes what you would see in our church building. And in doing so tries to explain things which you might otherwise not dare to ask. (If you can't see the picture of the church click here)
We have tried to avoid using religious jargon without explaining it. But some words may have slipped past our guard. So if anything puzzles you, do ask us questions by e-mail or through the TBC Contact Points.
We are a very straightforward and pragmatic people who are not offended by honest questions about what we believe and why we do what we do. We take our faith seriously but we try not to take ourselves too seriously.
When You Arrive.....
Our church building is like a large hall with comfortable chairs set out in a carpeted area facing a raised platform with two levels. If you come to one of our Sunday meetings (which we call services or worship services) you will probably enter the church from the rear so if you are late you will be behind everyone and can slip in unnoticed at the back. Our Sunday worship services begin at 10.30 am and 6.30 pm and typically last just over an hour.
As you enter, you should be welcomed by a steward and be given a copy of the weekly notice sheet. You can have a song book if you want one but most songs are projected onto the screen at the front of the church. If the steward realises that this is your first visit to TBC, she (or he) should also give you a welcome leaflet called "What's on Offer".
You can sit anywhere (other than on the platform!). We don't have reserved seats and people do not have their "own seat". Sit down, try to relax and take in everything around you. We know visitors can feel worried about when to stand up or sit down so we try to explain what to do as we go through our services.
In front of you on the upper or lower platform there is usually a plain wooden table, some chairs, a lectern, some flowers, and a screen for the video projector. There will also be microphones and any special equipment to be used during the service.
You probably won't see it, but under the lower platform is a concealed baptismal pool - the platform covers are removed when it is going to be used and it is filled with water.
On the wall above the platform is a plain wooden cross. You may see the church logo projected onto the screen.
To the right of the platform is an organ, a grand piano, and a drum set. There may be some other musicians as well.
To the left of the platform are doors through to the rest of the premises including the church hall. There will probably be a treasury box on the wall at the rear. We don't take up collections (offerings) during our services so don't worry if you don't have any money with you.
Typically services last just over an hour - a little longer if they include a communion service which last about 15 minutes longer. If there is going to be a communion service, the table will have on it some trays of small cups with non-alcoholic wine in them, plus some plates with bread on them. See our feature Communion in Pictures for more information.
A few minutes before the service is due to begin, the person who will lead the service (sometimes two people) will come into the church and sit on the platform. More often than not, our Minister will lead the service or preach but someone else will often help him.
At the end of the service we serve coffee and tea in our main hall or the atrium - this is free so again don't worry about where to pay. Someone will almost certainly realise you are a visitor and offer to show you the way to the main hall.
|We have a large baptismal pool under the lower platform at the front of the church. This is because we baptise adult believers by total immersion (Click to Watch a Baptism! online).|
People can be baptised at any age but it would unusual for anyone to be baptised at TBC before they are thirteen. The baptismal pool is like a small swimming pool and is just large enough for someone to be immersed full length in about a metre (three feet) of water. It is only visible and filled with water for baptismal services or on other special occasions. If you would like to come to a future baptismal service, let us know of your interest through one of the TBC Contact Points and we will let you know when we are next holding one.
The Bible will always have a central place in a Baptist Church - in the hands of the people, the preacher, and the Minister. We study its teachings and try to live by what it says.
We have comfortable chairs in our church rather than hard wooden pews. We replaced the pews at the end of the 1980s when we modernised the church buildings. At the same time we carpeted this large hall in which we hold our services.
We welcome children. They often sit with their parents but a crêche is provided during the morning service for younger children and Sunday Groups for older children and young people. But children do not have to go out of any of our services - so in the picture you can see some younger children playing on the carpeted floor.
The bread and wine will only be on the communion table on the platform for a communion service. The picture shows a goblet of wine on the table. Although we have such a large goblet (or chalice) on the table, it rarely has any wine in it. The wine is instead usually served to the people attending the service in small individual glasses - too small to illustrate! See our feature Communion in Pictures for more information.
A communion service is a simple (and symbolic) meal sometimes called communion. Other Christian denominations have their equivalent of the communion service which they call "mass" or "the Eucharist". The bread and wine are used to remind us:
But Baptists do not give the bread and wine special or mystical significance. We use them to represent the body and blood of Jesus and give thanks for what they represent. Unlike some Christian denominations, we do not believe that they become the body and blood of Jesus - a teaching which they call transubstantiation.
At one of our communion services, anyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Saviour is welcome to take the wine and the bread when it is served - and it is up to you to decide whether you want to take it. It is usually brought to people where they are sitting, the bread first (to be eaten as it is served) and then the wine in a small glass for each person (to be held and drunk all together). Don't worry about not knowing what to do, the person leading the service should explain clearly exactly what to do.
(The bread which is left over will probably be taken by someone for an ordinary meal at home and the non-alcoholic wine is re-used or thrown away.)
Baptist church buildings will usually have a communion table which is a simple wooden table. It is not called an altar and has no special significance other than as a table! It is called a communion table because it is there to be used as a table primarily during a communion service. Communion tables often have "This do in remembrance of me" carved on them - that is hold a communion_service in memory of Jesus.
The letters IHS are sometimes seen carved on a communion table or displayed on a tapestry hanging over a table, pulpit or lectern at the front of a Baptist church. They stand for "In hoc signo vinces". That is a Latin motto which was seen by the Roman Emperor Constantine in a vision: it means "In this sign shalt thou conquer" or in modern English: "wear this and win".
(The communion table is usually on the lower platform but is shown here on the upper platform because the baptismal pool is shown as open and full of water.)
Most Baptist church buildings will have a simple cross somewhere - but it will not be a crucifix because it won't have a figure of the crucified Jesus on it. We prefer to remember the risen Jesus and generally avoid statues and images. Jesus died in agony on the cross for our sins but then He rose again and is now in heaven on the right hand of God.
These doors (and the doors at the rear which are out of view) go through to the rest of the church premises which include a main hall, kitchen, coffee bar, counselling rooms, offices etc. We serve coffee and tea (without charge) in the main hall after every service.
Most Sundays we have a display of flowers in church. They remind us of the wonders of God's creation, decorate the church, and in the evening are sent as a gift to those unable to attend.
We are a mainstream Christian denomination and worship the same God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) as the Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodists etc. But we do have Baptist distinctives which are described in What are Baptists?. Our distinctives are not about our view of God but about how we come to faith and how we should respond once we have come to faith.
God, the Father
God, the Father, is the Creator God who loves us so much that to bring us back to Him, He sent Jesus, his Son, to die for us on the cross.
God, the Son - Jesus
Jesus died (on Good Friday) and rose again on the third day (on Easter Sunday). Jesus is now in heaven with God, the Father and has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us until He (Jesus) returns in glory at the end of time. You can learn more about this by going to What is a Christian?.
You can't see Jesus in the picture of our "virtual TBC" but we believe that He is with us whenever we meet for worship. Jesus said "For where two or three come together in my name there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20)
God, the Holy Spirit
We look forwarded to a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit each time we worship together - that He might fill and refresh each of us in our spirits.
Hearing Aid System
We use an induction loop hearing aid system. It is not shown in the picture, and you will have to look hard to see it if you actually visit us, because it is run by wires under the carpet.
The lectern is used by those reading or preaching to hold the Bible or their notes. Our lectern is a bit tall for short people so some people use another lectern which they place on the communion table.
You may see our Church logo and Vision Statement on the screen at the front of the church and they will be reproduced on the front of our notice sheet. The Vision Statement is "bringing Christ to our community and our community to Christ". You can read more about them by clicking Our Vision Statement and Logo. Each Baptist Church will have a different logo and vision statement although many of them will be very similar.
Minister or Preacher
Our Minister (Richard Littledale) will often lead our services and may also preach the sermon. He may also lead our communion service - sometimes simply called communion. But in fact anyone of our people or anyone we invite from outside the Church can do those things. We believe in "the priesthood of all believers". That means that any Christian can perform any rôle within the Church as they are gifted by the Holy Spirit and as they are recognised by the Church. There is not a separate and specially consecrated set of priests.
Preaching is a very important part of our services. We record all our services and you can choose a sermon to listen to if you click on Listen to a Sermon.
There may be some things missing on this Virtual Baptist Church Tour which you would have expected to see:
Anything else? .. do ask us by e-mail or through the TBC Contact Points.
Music is an important part of our worship. We often sing traditional hymns or new songs. They may be taken from the song book, but the words are usually also projected onto a screen using an overhead projector (ohp) or a video projector. Unfortunately copyright restrictions mean that we can't offer much of the kind of lively music on our Virtual Tour that we would sing on a Sunday. Apart, that is, from those for which we have special copyright permission:
But if you want to see the words and hear the music for some public domain or traditional (out of copyright!) hymns and songs click for:
We have a grand piano and an organ either of which may be used to accompany singing. Sometimes other instruments may also be played. The choice of instrument depends on the availability of musicians and the style of accompaniment which suits the particular song.
Usually the songs are projected onto the screen using a video projector so we can sing the words together without struggling with a book. The screen is also used to show helpful things like pictures, videos, maps if we are going to pray for someone in another country, or notes for the sermon. We also try to show the words of a prayer if we are going to say one together because we know new people (and even some regulars) don't know or can't remember the words even of something traditional like the Lord's Prayer.
The people are the Church (see photograph). The buildings may be called the church but they are just the place in which the people meet to worship. What are Baptists? will tell you more about the things which make Baptist Churches different from some other Christian denominations. No Church is perfect because it is made up of imperfect people ("sinners saved by grace"). As someone once said, "If you ever find a perfect Church, don't join it, you will only spoil it." But if you know you aren't perfect, then you are welcome to come and join us in our struggle of faith!
Baptist Churches are independent and decisions are taken by meetings of members. Anyone can come to our services but to become a member you have to have been baptised as an adult by total immersion (see baptismal pool or click to Watch a Baptism! online).
If you wish, you can break off from this tour to meet some TBC People - then come back here using the Back button on your browser.
We believe in the power of prayer. Jesus said "Have faith in God" (Mark 11:24) and the Bible says "...devote yourselves to prayer" (1 Corinthians 7:5).
During our services we pray for people. We also provide time for personal prayer at the end of each service - you can pray with a member of our prayer team (they wear badges saying "Prayer Team").
If you would like us to pray with or for you, you can make a prayer request by filling out a yellow card (in the lobby or ask a steward) before a service or by coming forward at the end of a service.
Prayer requests can also be passed down our prayer chain which will pray for people keeping the information strictly confidential to those praying.
We don't take up offerings - that is we don't pass a plate or bag to collect money during our services. Instead those who want to give to support the work of the Church give by standing order or by put their offerings in the treasury box in the church. You are welcome to come and worship with us and you won't be pestered to give money!
We welcome visitors and don't expect you to know what to do - we try to explain things during our services and meetings to help visitors. If we don't explain enough, please tell us so we can do better for future first-time visitors.
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