An introduction to Grace Lutheran Church for first-time visitors
There’s no question that visiting a new church for the first time can be intimidating. The customs and traditions may be new, the people unfamiliar, the expectations unknown. Too often people allow fear of the unknown to keep them from experimenting with a new church, but at Grace Lutheran Church West Springfield we aim to make it easy for newcomers to experience the joy that is a community united through faith in Jesus.
Below we’ve compiled a list of answers to the questions you may have in anticipation of your first visit to Grace Lutheran. We hope it’ll provide you with a better understanding of what happens in a Lutheran church service and help explain what makes our worship experience unique. If you have a question we haven’t covered in this document, please contact the church office.
Click here for directions to Grace Lutheran Church.
Frequenstly Asked Questions
What makes a Lutheran church like Grace different from other Christian denominations, like Catholic or Baptist?
Several hundred years ago, a Catholic monk named Martin Luther posted a challenge on the church door at Wittenberg University to debate 95 theological issues within the church that troubled him. Luther’s hope was that the church would reform its practices and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible. Unfortunately, the issues were never resolved. Eventually, Luther and his followers split from the church and the name Lutheran was applied to them. The Lutheran faith shares many of the same beliefs of other Christian denominations, holding steadfast to Luther’s key teachings:
- We are saved by the grace of God alone — not by anything we do;
- Our salvation is through faith alone — we only need to believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who died to redeem us;
- The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life — the only true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
For more visit the Christianity and Lutheranism page of the ELCA.org Web site.
What kinds of events take place at Grace Lutheran Church?
The highlight of each week is worship service, where the congregation gathers to celebrate its faith in God and give thanks for His son Jesus. However, there are many other events that take place at the church, including Sunday School, Bible studies, fundraisers, blood drives, rummage sales, common interest groups and many other gatherings that bring people together. See more on our “Church Life” page.
I’d like to attend a worship gathering. Are newcomers welcome?
Yes, absolutely! Grace Lutheran Church encourages visitors at all of its worship services. As is the case in many Lutheran churches, greeters are stationed at the entrance to the worship sanctuary prior to the start of each worship service. These long-time members of the congregation hand out programs that describe each step of the worship service. They can also answer any initial questions you have and help you find a seat if necessary. (Don’t worry; they’re not pushy, but they are very friendly.)
What time are worship services?
Worship services are currently scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m., and Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. The Wednesday evening service is an abbreviated worship lasting approximately 45 minutes. Holy Communion is celebrated weekly at both services.
What time should I arrive?
Visitors are welcome to arrive just before the start of worship, but are encouraged to arrive as early as 20-30 minutes prior. Members of the church community often gather to chat before each worship service, so this is an ideal time to introduce yourself and ask about the church.
Where should I park my car?
Grace has plenty of parking in the rear of the church. It is accessible via our driveway on Woodmont St. (facing the church from the front, Rt. 20, Woodmont is the sidestreet on the right). Enter through the rear door and walk straight ahead into Jung Hall to reach the sanctuary.
What should I wear?
There’s no need to wear a suit or a formal dress to Grace. We encourage visitors from all walks of life, and we want them to feel comfortable, so virtually any form of dress is acceptable. While you may see some people dressed formally, most worshipers wear what they commonly would to school or work.
Does Grace welcome children?
Kids of all ages are always welcome to attend worship at Grace. In fact, our Sunday morning worship features a “children’s message” in which children are invited to come sit in the front of the sanctuary for a few minutes to take part in a special learning experience geared just for them.
I am hearing-impaired. Do you offer any hearing-assistance devices?
Yes. Grace has a number of hearing-assistance devices for patrons with hearing problems. Simply ask one of the greeters as you enter the sanctuary and they will provide one for you.
Are there different types of worship services?
The worship service is always the same at Grace, but we offer a unique blend of two musical styles that alternate from week to week. Hymns are usually taken from a variety of Lutheran resources, including ‘With One Voice’ or the ‘Lutheran Book of Worship’. Musically, however, the services are either led by Grace’s own Back Row Band with guitars and keyboard, playing their own upbeat variations of standard hymns or by our traditional pipe organ often accompanied with a flute and choir.
Am I required to make a donation or offering?
No. However, Lutherans consider the offering to be an essential part of their faith as a response to the gift of grace, so it is certainly encouraged.
I’m not a Lutheran. Am I allowed to receive Holy Communion?
Yes. At Grace, all visitors are welcome to accept Holy Communion. However, if you prefer, you may remain seated during this portion of the service, or come forward to receive a blessing (simply keep your hands folded). Feel free to do whatever is most comfortable for you.
What happens after worship?
Pastor will say, “Go in peace…” and the congregation will respond, “Thanks be to God.” This marks the conclusion of the worship service, and those in attendance file out the rear of the sanctuary. Pastor makes himself available to greet worshipers as they exit. Feel free to take this opportunity to introduce yourself if you like, or simply shake the Pastor’s hand and say “Thank you.” Following worship, coffee and pastries are usually available in Jung Hall and guests are welcome to stay and chat.
Visitors are encouraged to sign our guest book which is located in the hallway between our fellowship hall and sanctuary. Comments are also welcome.
Under what circumstances is worship cancelled?
On occasions when severe weather or similar events call for the cancellation of worship services or other events, this information is communicated to the public through local television stations: WFSB channel 3 (CBS) and WGGB channel 40 (ABC), local cable channels 3 and 4 respectively. These occasions, though rare, are for public safety.