1. What's a Lutheran?
The Lutheran Church is a Christian church body named after Martin Luther, who preached that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone. It was this, and his conviction that the church should only teach what the Bible says, that got him kicked out of the Roman Catholic Church. He and others who agreed with him were called "Lutherans." Today, Lutherans are those who continue to have a faith based on Scripture alone, believing what the Bible says about being saved by grace alone, through faith alone.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.
2. Is your worship exciting?
Our worship can bring out a lot of different emotions, depending on the message. Some of the words and songs of our worship are used repeatedly, Sunday after Sunday. The repetition reminds us why we are in church, and teaches the timeless truths about God. Those parts of the service, you will find, are drawn from some of the dearest words God has given us in Scripture. We want to have them stuck in our heads and written on our hearts, so we use those words on many Sundays. One example is the Song of Simeon, which he sang when he saw the baby Jesus, "Lord now you let your servant depart in peace, according to your Word," etc. Also, in this ever changing world, many find it comforting that these familiar words of Scripture come back in our worship services from time to time, reminding us that God doesn't change.
There are other parts of our worship service that do change with the seasons and Sundays of the Church year. For instance, the readings and hymns for Christmas morning are different than the ones for the Sundays leading up to Easter. Some Sundays will be somber in mood, on account of the message from Scripture that we are focusing on. One example of that will be the Sundays in Lent, when we make a special point to remember our sinfulness and our Lord's suffering and death for our sins. Other Sundays are exciting and joyful, like Easter or Christmas. In every case, the hymns and readings we pick will be deeply meaningful and Christ-centered.
Colossians 3:16 (NIV) "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."
3. Are your sermons Bible-based?
Yes, absolutely. Sermon preparation usually begins on Monday morning, choosing a portion of Scripture for the next Sunday's sermon. The pastor studies those words in the original Biblical languages of Greek or Hebrew. He thinks about what those verses mean in the context of that book of the Bible, and in the context of the whole Bible. He prays for insight. Through the week, he thinks about what those verses of Scripture are meant to help us with. Ultimately, every passage of the Bible is meant to lead us to Christ, and so should every sermon--so he thinks about how he might open up this particular section of the Bible to the congregation to warn them of their sins and show them their Savior. As much as possible, stories and illustrations will be used to help make the point, but the goal in the end is that the Word of God will be remembered, and the Savior will be seen.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (NIV) And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
4. Are you open to visitors?Yes! Please come right in. In fact, when you come there will be someone at the entryway waiting to greet you and introduce you to a few friendly people. Or, if you prefer to quietly slip in and check us out, that's fine too.
Luke 13:29 (NIV) "People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God."
5. Will I be called on to speak? And how will I know what I am supposed to do?
No need to worry, no one is going to be put on the spot. The pastor does all the public speaking in the worship service. There are some prayers and responses that the congregation will say together, but they are all written out in the bulletin. Or, if you prefer, you may also just quietly sit and observe.
1 Corinthians 14:40 (NIV) Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
6. Do we have confession?
All Christians confess their sins to God in their own hearts. In our worship service, we confess our sins publicly to God together in a general way, in order that we may that general promise that God has forgiven us through faith in Christ. If there are particular sins that worry you, you are invited to speak with the pastor in private and confess your sins to him, and he will personally assure you that God has forgiven you. This sort of specific confession is not required, though we do encourage it!
John 20:21-23 (NIV) Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
7. Can I take the Lord's Supper?
Yes, of course, though it might not be a good idea to do it on your first visit. We ask our visitors to take our Bible Instruction Class before making that decision to stand with us in the Lord's Supper. St. Paul wrote that the Lord's Supper displays the unity that that all believers have with each other and with our Lord, as members of his body, (1 Corinthians 10:16,16). He also wrote that we should not join with people who teach God's Word falsely, "I urge you, brothers and sisters, watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them," Romans 16:17. For this reason, because all who take the Lord's Supper with us show that they agree with our teaching, we ask our visitors to take our membership class with the pastor before taking the Lord's Supper. We want our visitors to have this opportunity to test our teachings before joining us in this way.
Ephesians 4:4-6 (NIV) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
8. What is church membership?
Church members have been instructed in the basic teachings of the Bible, and declare their agreement with what this church teaches from the Bible. There are no membership dues, although members generally consider this church "theirs," and we contribute what we can to a freewill offering every Sunday to help make this ministry happen. Membership in this congregation also makes us part of a worldwide church body, known as the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Anyone may become a member after taking the membership class or after a private consolation with the pastor.
1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.