EDITED: A few changes have been made to the documents, based on readers’ suggestions. Thank you so much – keep the great ideas coming!
Newcomers who aren’t familiar with what happens at church may be nervous and feel unsettled and conspicuous.
I’ve made some simple handouts that you can make available when people come to church.
There’s a version for younger children, with very simple language, and a version for older children and adults, with some more detail. The explanations in the version for older children and adults are designed to be autism-friendly.
There’s also a sheet you can fill in with details about your specific church – where the toilets are, what happens after the service, etc. – to help people feel at home in your building. This is included in the PDF file, but there’s an editable Word version as well, so you can type your explanations in, instead of having to handwrite them!
If there are any improvements you’d like to see, PLEASE do let me know! I want these to be genuinely useful, so I need to know if they’re not.
Please note: when filling in the “Our Church” sheet, avoid jargon! For example, here are two ways to answer the question “what books or leaflets will I need for the service?”
WRONG: The hymnal will be used for the processional, gradual, offertory, and recessional hymns – the insert will be used for the Psalm. Today’s lectionary readings are found on the insert, while the rest of the congregation’s words for the Eucharist may be found in the seasonal service sheet for Epiphany.
RIGHT: The green book has the words for the songs in it. We call these songs “hymns.” The vicar will tell you what number to turn to for every hymn. The words we all say together are found in the leaflet with the coloured cover – we use different colours at different times of year. When there’s a Bible reading, the words for that are on the sheet with the red top that’s stuck inside the leaflet with the coloured cover. One of these readings is a song from the Bible called a Psalm, which we all sing together. If you get confused, feel free look over someone’s shoulder to see what they’re doing, or ask someone sitting near you.
Our Church (Word)