What to Expect

What can I expect on my first visit?
When you arrive, you will be warmly greeted and will receive a printed bulletin outlining the details of that day’s service along with information about upcoming events. The greeters can assist you with directions and answer any questions you might have. Please sign our guest register.

What should I wear?
Be yourself. You’ll find folks dressed in everything from suits and dresses to sneakers and jeans. Come in something that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. God doesn't mind, so why should we?

What about the children?
Children are welcome in worship. There is a special “children’s message” when children are invited forward for a time of learning prepared especially for them. A nursery is available for infants and toddlers, staffed by volunteers. An audio speaker is available so that parents can continue to follow what is happening in worship.

What is worship like?
 Every church has its own style of worship. We are confident you will enjoy worshiping at St. Thomas, even if it takes you a couple of Sundays to become accustomed to the order of worship.
 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 scripture readings for the day are also printed for you; however, Bibles are available in each row if you prefer to look them up on your own. 

 Our worship is liturgical, which means it follows a similar order every week. Every Sunday we consistently focus on God’s Word and Sacrament. In the words of Scripture and in the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion 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. They take some time to learn, but once you’ve learned them you’ll never forget them!

 We use a mixture of traditional and modern language. 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!

What is the worst that can happen?
Attending church somewhere 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 assure you, we won't embarrass you in this or any other way. We want you to feel comfortable and at home with us. Worship should be an enjoyable and uplifting experience. We promise to do all we can so you can relax and learn about your Savior.

 "I know my child is going to be too noisy." We enjoy the sounds of children and encourage parents of young children to bring them to worship. We have activity bags (filled with crayons, stickers, books, etc) for children to use during the service. And, we believe that starting to attend at an early age forms good habits for your children. If for any reason you feel the need to step out for a while, a nursery is available with an audio speaker so that parents can continue to follow what is happening in the service.
 
"I know I will feel out of place." We want you to feel as comfortable as possible. If you have a question, please ask someone for help. Don't hesitate to say, "I am new. What is this about?"

 "I am afraid I will say or do something wrong." All of us have felt this way when in a new situation. We hope you see that the people of our congregation are ordinary people like yourself. We accept you as you are and help you become what Christ wants you to be.

 "I just want to watch at first and I know that they will try to involve me or sign me up." It is unpleasant to be pressured or to be part of a "membership drive" as though we were heads of cattle, isn't it? We believe that church membership should be a voluntary thing, and that the most important thing is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and salvation. It takes time for this to be cultivated. People need time to evaluate and decide if they wish further involvement. We believe we should respect that need.

 "I don't know that much about the Bible." Church and Bible Study are opportunities to grow in our knowledge of the Bible and faith in Jesus. You won't have to read or answer any questions you don't want to answer. And remember, sometimes the wisest words we say are, "I don't know"

What Do Lutherans Believe?
Lutherans are Christians who accept the teachings of Martin Luther (1483 – 1546). Luther was a German theologian who realized that there were significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the practices of the Roman Catholic church at that time. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the door of Wittenberg University, titled “95 Theses” (to debate 95 theological issues). His hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.

What started as an academic debate escalated into a distinct separation between the Roman Catholic church of the time and those who accepted Luther’s suggested reforms. "Lutheran" became the name of the group that agreed with Luther’s convictions.

Today, Lutherans still celebrate the Reformation on October 31 and still hold to the basic principles of Luther’s theological teachings, such as Grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone. These comprise the very essence of Lutheranism:

  • We are saved by the grace of God alone -- not by anything we do;
  • Our salvation is through faith alone -- a confident trust in God, who in Christ promises us forgiveness, life and salvation; and
  • The Bible is the norm for faith and life -- the true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.