What To Expect in Our Services

  What to Expect

 Worship at Good Shepherd follows a liturgical format that blends the excellence of old and new with:
  • classic hymns
  • contemporary accompaniments
  • historical texts
  • modern messages
The message at Good Shepherd communicates God's Word in a way that 21st century people appreciate and understand. Our pastor speaks on the level of the listeners, using contemporary anecdotes and intriguing illustrations to give messages of God's grace and guidance. The relevance of these Bible-based messages will guide you with new insight for the week ahead. At the same time, the reverence of our church setting provides a transcendent worship experience to give you greater joy and strength.

Welcome

When you enter the church, you will be greeted by an usher, who will hand you an order of service to follow. Feel free to ask the ushers for any questions you have about our church or assistance you need. Our entire order of service is printed in the service folder. After the service, our pastor greets the worshippers. Following the service, feel free to stay and visit.

Dress

Sometimes people wonder how they are expected to dress at a church they’ve never visited before. Since the Bible presents no dress code, aside from simple decency and Christian humility, we don't make any rules either. Like most people, our members try to make their worship time at church a special time. This is often reflected in the way they dress.

On any Sunday at our church you may see running shoes and high heels, jeans and suits, or open collars and ties. When a person dresses out of love for God, the choice of dress (casual or more formal) is acceptable to God ...and us. 

Offerings

"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.

The Bible 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. We pass an offering plate during the service so that our worship may include bringing gifts to God.

You may wish at first 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. 
 

"I'm Worried I'll Be Embarrassed!"

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 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." Many parents are worried that their children will cause a disruption. Some churches do not encourage oreven allow parents to bring young children to worship with them. We love having children in worship. We believe that they grow in faith through the Word of God just as adults do.  

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 in the back of the church, where you can bring your child. Also, if you have a little one who needs a change, diaper changing stations can be found in both men's and ladies' restrooms directly in back of the foyer. We also have activity bags for children for use during the worship 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 Holy Trinity 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. Don't forget...sometimes the wisest words to say say are, "I don’t know."
 

 

Why Do We Use a Liturgy?

Our services typically follow an order of service such as:

  • Prayer before service and musical prelude
  • Greeting
  • Opening Hymn
  • Confession and Absolution
  • Lessons and singing of Psalms
  • Children's Sermon
  • Hymn of the Day
  • Sermon
  • Reading of the Creed Offering Prayer
  • Communion (on 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month)
  • Blessing
The word liturgy comes from the Latin word meaning "to work." Basically it is the order of service that is used to guide us in our worship. 

The liturgy we use is based on the historical Christian order of worship dating back to the 1st century Christians. With slight variations or with major changes, we follow a similar pattern with each service. 

A liturgy doesn't stifle our worship. It rather gives it direction so that goals and objectives are met. These goals and objectives include: confession of sin, receiving forgiveness, and growing in God's will for our lives. 

Weekly themes direct our attention to specific thoughts God would have us learn. In this way the majority of God's counsel can be covered in one year, rather than relying on a hit and miss topical approach. 

There are three key elements in a liturgical form of worship:
  1. The proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ is to be the central part of of worship
  2. The participation of our congregation.  Each christian has the God-given priviledge to glorify God.  A liturgy allows each worshipper to be a participant and not just a spectator.
  3. A liturgy ties us to the history of the Christian church and unites us with all the saints of God.

 Close Communion (please....not "closed")

We practice in our church "close" communion (as in close friends). Clear Bible teachings cause us to follow this practice.
 
  • Communicants are Christians, that is they trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone as Savior. Only true believers want to proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. 1Cor. 11:23-26)
 
  • Communicants will recognize what they receive. This is not just plain wine and bread-but the true body and blood of Jesus in communion with the bread and wine. (1Cor. 10:16)
 
  • Communicants examine themselves. Paul writes, "Let a person examine himself before he eats of the bread  and drinks of the cup..." (1Cor. 11:27-28) Do I see myself as a sinner? Am I sorry for my sin? Do I believe that Jesus provides forgiveness for me through this sacrament?
   
  • Communicants agree together with the Bible's teachings. Unity at the Lord's Supper is a witness to a common belief in the Savior's teachings. Scripture warns to "watch out for those who cause divisions...contrary to the teachings you have learned. Keep away from them. (Romans 16:17)
   

Since we are speaking of the Lord's Supper, not ours, and since God's word speaks plainly on the subject, we diligently strive to preserve these truths among us. 

For all these reasons, participation at the Lord's Supper is offered to those who by their church membership are united in the teachings of the word of God as they are confessed by the Wisconsin Ev. Lutheran Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. 

Why this concern? Scripture warns, "Whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body and blood of Jesus, eats and drinks God's judgment on himself." (1Cor. 11:28) It is really an act of love to practice close communion. It's loving because: 

  • it preserves the word of God
  • it protects Christians from giving a false witness to unity
  • it protects those who commune, as much as humanly possible, from communing improperly

This is not a new practice for Christian congregations. We have writings of the earliest centruies A.D. which state that those believers refused commuion to all who were not baptized, all who refused to repent of sins and all who were unwilling to forsake false doctrine. 

In fact, just about all the major denominations of today took the matter just as seriously in the early years of their existence. Sadly, most of these have lost faithfulness to Scripture in this area--and this makes our practice seem "unusual." But God's word has not changed. 



We sincerely hope that we have expressed ourselves clearly in this important matter. We have tried to speak the truth in love.