Visiting for the First Time

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1

If you’re visiting this page, you’ve probably got some questions and you’re looking for answers. We understand it can be hard to visit a church for the first time. You might ask yourself,

  • “What’s going to happen when I come in the front door?”
  • “How will I know where to go and what to do when I get there?”
  • “What will I do with my children?”
  • “What should I wear?”
  • “What will the service be like?”

All kinds of unknown factors can make church seem very intimidating.

With this section we hope to answer some of the questions you might have about our church before you visit. All of us at Our Saviour Evangelical Lutheran Church truly hope to make your visit with us relaxed and enriching.

What is worship like?

Every church has its own style of worship. We think you’ll enjoy the services at Our Saviour, but as in any church you should expect to take a couple of Sundays to become accustomed to our way of praising God together.

We attempt to make our worship as “user friendly” as possible. Each week the order of the service is printed in the bulletin with directions to the pages in our hymnal. The lessons are also printed for you.

Our worship is liturgical, which means that we have a set order of worship every week. Every Sunday we consistently focus on God’s Word and Sacrament because only through the words of Scripture and in the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion does God freely offer us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. These things are the only source of our spiritual lives and spiritual growth.

Music is also an important part of our worship. Through our singing of hymns and other songs we express our thanks to God for his wonderful salvation. As Lutherans we are blessed with a rich heritage of excellent hymnody called Lutheran chorales. These powerful hymns remind us of the many wonderful things our Savior has done for us and for our salvation. They take some time to learn, but once you’ve learned them you’ll never forget them!

In our worship we use traditional forms along with modern language and applications. The traditional features of our worship bring us the best from God’s Church throughout the ages, while the contemporary features remind us that God’s promises of forgiveness, guidance and peace still apply to our daily lives. We pray that through our worship your faith will be strengthened in those promises!

Our worship services usually include the following parts in a variety of forms:

  • The Invocation – We call on the name of our Savior Lord as we praise him with song.
  • The Confession of Sins – We confess to God that we have failed to live up to His perfect standards, and we plead for His mercy.
  • The Announcement of Forgiveness – The pastor announces the forgiveness of sins won for us by the perfect life and innocent sufferings and death of God’s Son, Jesus, our Savior.
  • Prayer of the Day – The Church brings her concerns and prayers to a loving Father in heaven, who has shown great mercy and promised to hear our cries for help.
  • Sermon – The pastor offers instruction and encouragement in a sermon, usually based on one of the three readings. Expect to hear God’s guidance for dealing with the problems of life, along with the promises of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven through Jesus.
  • Response to the Word – We respond with offerings and prayers for the things God has promised us and for strength to do what He has asked.
  • Final Blessing – We hear one last assurance of God’s guidance and love.

Throughout these different parts of our service, we praise our gracious God with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs from the entire history of God’s Church. During some services, our members partake of the Lord’s Supper. Our Saviour Evangelical Lutheran Church (and all congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod) practice what is called “Close Communion”. For an explanation of this practice, please contact Pastor Lepak.

Our worship services connects us across generations with believers of old and believers yet to come. The service is composed of many passages of God’s Word, ordered to give those in attendance the two inseparable messages of God, the Law and the Gospel. The Law teaches us of our sin and its deadly consequences, while the Gospel shows us God’s mercy and grace in sending Christ to deal with our sin by dying in our place on the cross of Calvary, suffering the punishment for every sin and rising triumphantly from the dead.

The message of each and every service has an otherworldly quality to it, because it shows us eternity and the God who is above all in His own words. Some would call our service “formal” or “traditional” in style. We prefer not to think of the service in terms of style, but rather we focus on the content, how to communicate it clearly in language that everyone can learn. We use modern language to communicate the timeless message clearly.

When you come the first few times, you need not try to participate; just take the opportunity to listen and learn how to use our service materials. If the pastor is aware that you are new to Lutheran worship, he can arrange (at your request) for a member to help guide you during the service.

Questions and Answers

How should I dress?

You might wonder how you are expected to dress at a church you’ve never visited before. Since the Bible presents no dress code, except for simple decency and Christian humility, Our Saviour Lutheran Church doesn’t make any rules either. On any Sunday at our church you may see running shoes and heels, jeans and suits, open collars and ties. When a person dresses out of love for his or her Lord, recognizing that God is both King and Friend, the choice of dress, be it casual or more formal, is acceptable to God … and us.

What about the offering?

“When will they take the offering?” “How will it be collected?” “How much am I expected to give?” “Do they want visitors to contribute too?” These are typical worries about church offerings, but God’s Word teaches that our offerings to God should reflect our belief that all we have is his gift to us. It teaches us that with our offerings we worship and honor God.

Like most Christians, our members bring offerings to God through their church. Since offerings are gifts of love for God, no one dictates what each person is to give. These offering give them the opportunity to not only show love to Christ, but also to support the work of our congregation as we bring the Good News of Christ’s love to more people.

God certainly does not need our offerings, but it pleases Him to receive our heartfelt gifts. As our guest, you are not expected to contribute an offering, nor should you feel any pressure to do so. We hope that you will take the opportunity to learn more about our ministry before bringing your offerings to God through our church, but you are welcome to participate as your heart leads you to give.

What is the worst that can happen?

Attending a church for the first time can be intimidating. Here are some common worries:

  • “I would just die if they made me stand up and say something.”
    We can assure you, we won’t embarrass you in this or any other way. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible and at home with us. Time at church should be an enjoyable and uplifting experience. We promise to do all we can so you can learn about your Savior.
  • “I know my child is going to be too noisy.”
    Our congregation is much like a family with infants and kids and teens and adults and elderly. It is not unusual to hear the cry of a baby mixed in with the sound of hymns or readings. If, however, at any time you feel the need, we have a nursery with a couch and changing table from where you can hear the service.
  • “I know I will feel out of place.”
    We hope this visitor’s guide has helped to ease your mind, but if you have a question, please ask someone for help. Don’t hesitate to say, “I’m new here. Can you help me?” We can assure you our members are more than willing to help!
  • “I’m afraid I’ll say or do something wrong.”
    You are not alone! All of us, at some time, have felt this way in a new situation. We hope you’ll see that the people of Our Saviour are ordinary people like yourself. We want to accept you as you are and help you become what Christ wants you to be. We do not want to throw cold water on that with a critical spirit.
  • “I just want to watch at first, but I know they’ll try to get me involved or sign me up for something.”
    It’s unpleasant to be pressured or to be part of a “membership drive” as though we were heads of cattle, isn’t it? We believe church membership should be a voluntary matter, and the most important thing of all is to trust in our Savior Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. This takes time. People need time to evaluate and decide if they wish further involvement in a congregation. We believe we should respect that need.
  • “I don’t know that much about the Bible.”
    Worship and Bible Study are opportunities to grow in our knowledge of the Bible and faith in Jesus. You won’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to answer.

We hope that this page has answered any questions or concerns you might have had. Please ask if you have any other questions. We look forward to welcoming you!