Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
We are happy that you are checking out our website and are interested in joining us for worship as a visitor. We welcome you to be with us, but we will not put you on the spot or in the limelight with visitor introductions or the like.We thought you might like to know a little bit about what to expect when you come to worship with us.
What to Wear?
We are somewhat casual in our dress, from suits and dresses to pants and sport shirts. Summer even brings some shorts and t-shirts as well. "Clean" is the primary word that comes up in the Bible for what people wear in the presence of God (i.e. Ex. 19:10).
Where is St. Johns?
Here is a link to Google maps. Google maps shows the most Western entrance because of the access road. There is another entrance off of Hwy. 34 that is more commonly used. The GPS coordinates to our driveway are 46.922087, -95.072310. Here is a site plan including parking.
Where's the front entrance?
As you come into the parking area, you will see a carport to the left which passes by the front entrance. We also have entrances on the east side and the north side (the "back" entrance). If the front and back parking lots are full, like for a large funeral or Christmas Eve, there is a gravel overflow parking lot behind the trees that line the back parking lot. When we are expecting to use this space we cone off two parking spaces so the overflow is accessible by driving straight. We often have a parking attendant when expecting large crowds.
I'm in the building. Now where?
It's probably easiest for first time visitors to come in the front entrance to the lobby. Coat racks are to the right of the front door. To the left is the short hallway that leads to the worship space (sanctuary). Also on your left is the door to the fellowship hall (right of the stairs) where we gather for snacks, fellowship and Bible study between the services. If you need the restrooms, they are up the hall on the right that leads away from the lobby. Here is a jpg of a simplified layout of our building (not to scale). Here is a printable PDF.
Entering the worship space.
As you move toward the doors of the sanctuary, you will pass by a table with a red "Friendship Register." We invite you to fill out the information and let us know where you are visiting from. If you are in the area and are interested in learning more about us or joining our church, please leave good contact information so we can get a hold of you. There is another opportunity for this during worship after the sermon with a black folder that everyone is invited to sign.
The ushers will greet you and hand you a bulletin. Inside the bulletin is the order of service being used, the hymns/songs being sung, as well as news and announcements. If we are using a special printed order of service that will also be in the bulletin. There are usually a couple of inserts in the bulletin as well. The white insert has the Introit, Collect of the Day and the Scripture readings for the day (called the "propers"). We use this during the service.
If you have young children with you, feel free to grab a "busy bag" hanging on a wooden tree by the staircase. Inside the bag is activity sheet and clipboard, a book, sewing cards, crayons and a number of other things for them to do.
I'm in the sanctuary. Now what happens?
If you've arrived early enough that you are seated for a few minutes before the service starts, we invite you to use this time to prepare for worship. Many people pray silently, read the bulletin or look at the readings or the hymns for the day. Others chat quietly with friends catching up on the week. Some simply listen to the pre-service music. There are also Bibles available for reading in the hymnal racks at each end of the pews. Our hope is that any of our members sitting near you will introduce themselves to you and offer to be of assistance to you if you need it.
What can I expect during the service?
We are a liturgical church, which means that we follow established orders of service. We use a number of different orders of service most of which are out of our hymnal - Lutheran Service Book.
The first Sunday of every month we have "blended" worship at the 8:00 a.m. service (and also at the 10:30 a.m. service every "odd numbered" month). The blended service has a more contemporary sound and is accompanied by the Cross of Christ Worship Team.
The other orders of service we use are are filled with passages drawn from Bible and use a structure that traces its roots back to the early church and even into the Old Testament. When we worship we are joining our voices with the saints of the past. There is more information about our worship style here.
Our pastors preach using one or more of the readings for the day. The sermons usually last 10-15 minutes depending on the preacher and the subject. Our preaching is based on the full council of God found in the Bible. We speak of what God says is right and wrong in His Word and apply it to our lives today. But even more importantly, we focus on Jesus Christ and how He is the fulfillment of every one of God's promises of grace and mercy. You will always hear the good news of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins and the salvation He won for us.
What about children in church?
We love having children in worship and we do not expect that they "should be seen and not heard." They are invited to sing the songs, pray the parts of the service they know and listen to God's Word. There are the "busy bags" mentioned above to help the younger ones (found on a tree by the stairs). We also have a nursery for those important moments like diaper changes and if the service gets just too long. Unfortunately, the nursery is not staffed, but you will find a changing table, some toys and a comfortable place to sit. An audio feed goes into the speaker in the nursery so you can hear what is happening. You can find the nursery by going through the fellowship hall to the first door on the right in the hallway.
What about offerings?
During the worship service we take an offering at some point after the sermon. As a guest, you are welcome to support the ministry of St. Johns with a gift, but please don't feel compelled. We believe it is the responsibility of the members to support the church, pastors, staff and the various ministries we are engaged in.
During the offering the congregation is invited to sign the black registers alongside the center end of the pews. Even if you signed the main register you are invited to sign this one as well. This is another opportunity to leave contact information and a box to check if you would like a call from one of the pastors.
What about Holy Communion?
Holy Communion is offered nearly every Sunday at St. Johns. It is given at the 10:30 a.m. service on 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month and at the 8:00 a.m. service on 2nd and 4th Sundays.
This is probably the most delicate subject with guests, especially guests who do not come from another Missouri Synod congregation. We practice what is commonly called "Close Communion." This practice, common in nearly every church until 50 years ago, simply asks that guests who are not from the same denomination as us would refrain from receiving communion. We know it feels like we are saying "Come, come we're friendly" and "No, no, stranger danger." We are not trying to be unfriendly to guests and we hope you don't take it that way.
This practice comes out of a great respect for what Jesus offers us in His Supper. We believe that when Jesus says, "Take and eat, this is my body ... this is my blood" He means it. Jesus actually comes to us with His resurrected body and blood "in, with and under" the bread and the wine. Not all church bodies teach this. Many teach that the bread and the wine represent or are a symbol or reminder of Jesus' death and resurrection. Some churches teach that this meal is just an ordinance - that we are obeying God by doing this and that is the "reward of faith". Among the other passages that we consider with this practice is the warning that St. Paul issues in 1 Corinthians 12:28-29, "Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves." (NIV).
One pastor wrote a little booklet called "The Seven Myths of Close Communion." It has more information about this practice. Please feel free to ask us questions about this practice.
What about after worship?
We end most services with a final hymn or song. The pastors walk down the center aisle to greet people as they leave. Many people gather their things and leave either by the center aisle or side aisles. Again, we hope that any of our members nearby will take the chance to introduce themselves if they haven't already and welcome you. After the 8:00 a.m. service many people go to the fellowship hall for snacks and conversation. Starting about 9:30 a.m. one of the pastors leads a Bible study on a variety of topics. We also have one or two other Bible studies going on at the same time.
If you have children with you, they are invited to participate in Sunday School. Classes are held from September through May 9:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m..
If you have left us contact information, we will be mailing you a postcard simply thanking you for joining us for worship. If you are interested in more information about St. Johns or becoming a member please let one of the pastors know or email us at one of the links below.
We look forward to your visit and pray that we can be a blessing to you as we gather around the Word of God!
St. Johns Congregation