We understand that it may be intimidating to walk into an unfamiliar church. No matter who you are, we want you to feel welcome - God's love is for all.
Every church has its own way of doing things, and if you are visiting for the first time it can be difficult to follow what is going on. This guide is intended to give you some idea of what to expect when you visit. While you are with us, we encourage you to ask someone if you are unsure of what is going on at any time.
Parking is available on the street next to the church. You may enter from the front double doors or the side door (the members' favorite entrance).
We welcome all children to attend our services. If you feel uncomfortable with your child's noise level, we have a nursery room located next to our Sunday School area, but rest assured that our members love children of all ages. Baptized children are members of God's family and they too can make a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Like most people, our members try to make their worship time an important and special time. One may dress casually and rejoice in having a God who will accept us as we are; another may dress to reflect the awe and reverence we have for our Lord and Savior. When a person dresses out of love for God, the choice of dress (casual or formal) is acceptable to God and us.
At Concordia, the historic liturgy of the Christian Church and hymns provide the context for our worship of the Triune God by our receiving the forgiveness He offers in Word and Sacrament. Our use of the historic liturgy and hymns is in keeping with God’s Word and continuous with the Church of all times and places. The liturgy is still “contemporary” today, and yet appropriately distinct from the world. We recognize that the historic liturgy and hymns can be unfamiliar to others, and we welcome the opportunity to help anyone come to appreciate and treasure them as we do.
Our main weekly services are at 8:15a and 10:45a each Sunday. We call our worship service the “Divine Service”, which includes a celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Before the Service
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the door and given a printed bulletin setting out details of that day’s service along with information about upcoming events. When you sit down in the church itself, you should find some books near you in the pew. These hymnals contain the songs we sing during the service. We usually use the blue one (The Lutheran Hymnal). Sometimes the songs are printed in the bulletin. Either way you will be directed along the way.
The Opening of the Service
The service opens with the pastor entering the church and greeting the congregation. This is then followed by the opening hymn. At the end of the hymn, we stand for the first part of the service, as printed in the bulletin. The service begins with the words, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. These are the words used in baptism, and remind us that we gather as those whom God has made his children in baptism. Some people may make the sign of the cross at this point, as a reminder to themselves of their own baptism.
We then kneel as we proceed to confess our sins to God, and then the pastor declares God’s forgiveness to us. When the pastor says these words of absolution, he is speaking on behalf of Jesus, and we can be as sure of God’s forgiveness of us as surely as if Jesus were saying those words with his own lips.
The Service of the Word
The service then continues with “the Service of the Word”. This starts with the pastor and congregation reciting a psalm. We then have an Old Testament and New Testament reading, before for a reading from one of the four Gospels. On most Sundays, the pastor will give a short talk to the children after the Gospel reading. This is followed by the hymn of the day, the sermon and the reciting of the Nicene Creed (a summary of what we believe as Christians).
For Lutherans, the sermon is not the pastor telling us how to live our lives. Rather, the pastor’s job is to tell us about Jesus, so that we are reminded of God’s love for us as shown in sending Jesus to live a perfect life, die for our sins, and rise again from the dead so that we may live with him for ever. As the pastor proclaims this, we believe that Jesus himself is speaking through the pastor, and the Holy Spirit helps us to believe in Jesus’ promises for ourselves.
After the pastor's message, offering plates will be passed. This is an opportunity for our regular members to actively respond to all God has given them by freely offering their resources in support of his church. We certainly do not expect or require visitors to put anything in the offering plate, though you are welcome to do so if you choose.
The final part of the service of the Word is the prayer of the church, when we pray for the needs of the church, members and friends of the congregation, and other people around the world. The words of the prayer, including the congregational response for each section (usually “hear our prayer” or “Lord have mercy”), are in the weekly bulletin.
The Service of the Sacrament
We then proceed to Holy Communion, before which the pastor says the Preface and other prayers (printed in the bulletin), and the congregation sings a hymn called the "Sanctus" in preparation. This culminates in the pastor saying the words of our Lord, as spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper. When the pastor says Jesus’ words “This is my body…” and “This cup is the new testament in my blood”, the bread and wine become Jesus’ body and blood, because Jesus’ words always accomplish what they say.
Eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus is not something to be done lightly. For that reason, we ask that if you are not already a member of our congregation or of another congregation in the LCMS (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod), you should please talk to the pastor before receiving the body and blood of Jesus in the Supper. If you are not taking Communion, you may come forward to the altar and cross your arms for a blessing or you may remain in your seat while others go forward.
End of the Service, and After
After the distribution of the Supper, there is a closing prayer and then a final hymn. We then sit, and the pastor makes some announcements about upcoming events. After this, the pastor leaves the sanctuary and we follow him into the hall where you are welcome to join us for a cup of coffee and conversation.