WHAT TO EXPECT
Welcome in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Sunday service, what Trinity calls “Divine Service,” is the most public representation of this Christian congregation, and it communicates what we believe, teach, and confess. Like all Christian churches, we seek to follow Christ’s exhortation in John 4:23, 24, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Here are three pamphlets that describe the Sunday service: Divine Service - A Narrative Commentary, Preparation for Holy Communion, and Ceremony & Rites in the Lutheran Church.
Worship is an important factor for everyone who visits a church. We want you to be as aware as possible with our Lutheran substance of worship, and we and hope the following questions and answers will help you understand our congregation’s identity …
What … to expect when you visit Trinity.
Since visiting any congregation for the first time raises questions, this page gives you some ideas about what to expect when you visit Trinity. Browse the rest of the site for other details about the service and the congregation. Contact us with any questions or comments … maybe we missed something that would be important to you and others, and we want to know that.
Where … do I park?
You can check out a map for directions. The driveway entrance is accessible from Fulton Street. You will find plenty of parking, including handicapped spaces. The chief entrance is wheelchair-accessible.
How … will I be welcomed?
An usher will give you a bulletin, gladly answer any questions you have, and help you if you need assistance. Don’t hesitate to say, “I’m 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. But we hope you see our family at Trinity is full of people like you.
“I would feel very uncomfortable if they made me stand up and say something.” We assure you, we won’t put you on the spot—we won’t embarrass you in that or any other way. We want you to feel comfortable and at home with us. A service should be an enjoyable and uplifting experience. We promise to do all we can so you can learn about your Savior. You are welcome to simply come, sit, and observe.
“I don’t know that much about the Bible.” Worship and Bible study are opportunities to grow in faith in Jesus and in our knowledge of the Bible. You won’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to answer. You won’t be called on to answer anything. We simply want to be a place where you can join us for the exact reason our entire congregation: grow in our faith and understanding of God’s Word. Come and join us, no matter what you feel like your knowledge level is, and grow with us, together, as God strengthens our faith!
What … about the children?
Adults teach children how to listen and participate in the fellowship.
“But I know my child is going to be too noisy.” The noise of children is the noise of the future of a congregation. It’s the noise of parents doing exactly what they should be doing: bringing their children to Jesus’ feet to have them learn from Him. We offer a quiet room—with an audio and video stream—during our services; parents may sit with their children if the need arises, but we encourage the children to be in worship as much as possible. Parents with small children are encouraged to sit near the front so that the children can better see and hear what is going on in worship.
What … should I wear?
Sometimes people wonder how they are expected to dress for a place or event they’ve never attended. Since the Bible presents no dress code, aside from simple modesty, we don’t make any rules either. Like most people, our members try to make their worship time a special time. This is often reflected in the way they dress.
How … will I follow the service?
We use Lutheran Service Book; this book contains the order of the service and the hymns. We also use a bulletin, which is a printed program that provides an outline of the service and identifies the hymns, readings, and prayers. Ask if you would like assistance; someone also may ask you if you have questions. We follow a liturgy, or order of service; a “regular” service contains many of the same elements as that of the early Christian church and our weekly bulletin will walk you through every step of worship, and even offer a few explanatory notes as we move through the service.
A service generally includes the following components:
The Confession of Sins: We confess to God that we have failed to live up to the perfect standards in His law, and we plead for His mercy.
The Absolution (Announcement of Forgiveness): The pastor announces the forgiveness of sins won for us by the perfect life and innocent sufferings and death of Jesus, our Savior.
Gloria (Song of Praise): These songs of praise remind us of the wonderful things God has done for us, not the least of which is the salvation He gives through Christ.
Prayer of the Day: The Church brings her concerns and prayers to a loving Father, whom has shown great mercy and promised to hear our cries for help.
Bible Readings: The pastor reads three selections from the Bible. They usually include one selection from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament letters, and one from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John).
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 the new creation 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.
Holy Communion: We celebrate Holy Communion on every Sunday. Before communing, however, we ask our visitors to please speak with the pastor. As a congregation we practice “closed communion.” For a further explanation of this practice, please see What … about taking communion? below.
Benediction (Final Blessing): We hear one last assurance of God’s guidance and love.
What … about taking communion?
The Lord Jesus has laid out specific instructions—warnings and blessings—about His communion. By taking the Lord’s Supper at a congregation you are confessing that you 1) agree with what this congregation teaches and 2) understand fully what God says about the Lord’s Supper in His Word.
Since we cannot judge the hearts, we go by the public confession of congregation membership. Members of Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod congregations are welcome to join us at the Lord’s Table, though we ask you to please speak with the pastor before communing. Members of other Lutheran or Christian church bodies who wish to commune with us are asked to speak with the pastor to arrange a time to meet in order to ensure that our faith in what God has told us is in fact in complete agreement.
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 offerings. The members of Trinity bring their offerings to thank God for the goodness He has shown us and the forgiveness He has freely given to us. God does not dictate the amount that should be brought. Scripture only teaches that our offerings to God should reflect our belief that everything we have is a gift of God. The Bible tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). In other words, don’t give offerings because of guilt or embarrassment. We want all offerings to be made freely and with joy, out of thanks to God for what He has done for us. We recommend that you first learn more about Trinity’s ministry before bringing your offerings to God through our congregation. Our guests may offer a gift, but certainly not expected to give.
What … type of music is played?
Lutheran worship is Christocentric, meaning that all readings, practices, and music focuses on Christ and His redemptive act on the cross. Neither pastor, musicians, nor the congregation will “put on a show” for God. God is not the audience for our action — He initiates our action and calls and sustains us through His Word. Musicians and music confess that God’s Word “. . . will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55: 11) All our music is focused on Christ or some aspect of our faith, and is often tied to Christ’s life.
What … musical instruments do you use?
Martin Luther restored a vibrant tradition of congregational singing to the Church. Though an organ is a chief instrument, our voices are always the primary instrument we use to sing and to confess our faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What … happens after the service?
After the service, we gather for coffee, tea, juice, snacks, and conversation in the Parish Hall. “I just want to watch at first and I know that they will try to involve me or sign me up.” For congregation membership the most important thing is to trust in our Savior Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. People need time to evaluate and decide if this congregation teaches God’s Word purely and is thus a place they want to join or become further involved with. Take all the time that you need. The pastor and the rest of our congregation are here to help you with any questions or concerns you might have.