Our Worship Services
Our Worship services are designed to be a two-way conversation with God -- he speaks to us through his Word and Sacraments, and we speak to him through our prayers, praises and offerings.
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. 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." We offer a quiet room during our services where parents may sit with their more "active" children. Feel free to take your child to the room anytime during the service. You may still enjoy the service as audio is piped into the room.
"I know I will feel out of place." We hope that this description will ease your mind, but if you have a question, please ask someone for help. 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 Martin Luther Church is full of ordinary people like you, who aren't above messing up once in a while.
"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 is a voluntary thing, and that the most important thing is to trust in our Savior Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. It takes time for this to be cultivated. People need time to evaluate and decide if they want to get further involved. We 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. You won't be called on to answer anything. We simply hope to be a place where you can grow --as we all try to be.
"Most churches I've been to are filled with 'hypocrites.'" This is a common complaint about Christian churches. People expect to enter a church and find "perfect people" there. We make no such claims about ourselves. People who would make statements like the above one need to realize that the church is a spiritual hospital. It's not for healthy people; it's for sick people. Jesus himself said: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" (Mt 9:12). Jesus is the Great Physician of our souls. So don't come to Martin Luther Church expecting to find perfect people. We're far from perfect! As the bumper sticker says: "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." » top «
What should I wear when I come to Martin Luther Church?
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 modesty, 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.
However, on any given Sunday you may see running shoes and high heels, jeans and suits, 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 to us. » top «
"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.
Scripture 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 feel compelled by guilt or embarrassment to give an offering. We want all offerings to be made freely and with joy, out of thanks to God for what he has done for us.
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 after the sermon so that our worship may include bringing gifts to God. Offering envelopes are available to members to keep their gifts a private matter.
A child may bring the quarters and dimes his parents give him. Someone older may write a check. Both are remembering Jesus and giving their gift out of love for him.
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 the Holy Spirit leads you to give. » top «
Why do you practice close (or closed) Communion?
One of the biggest questions that people have about worship at Martin Luther Church, or any WELS or ELS church, is our practice of close or closed Communion. First of all, a disclaimer: we do not practice close Communion to be exclusive or judgmental . Nor is it out of a "holier than thou" attitude. Our greatest desire is that all people might be able to join us for this heavenly banquet. So please don't think that we want to exclude you or relish it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
That being said, Scripture does have some very definite things to say about who is to be invited to the Lord's table. God gives us some very specific "provisions" concerning communicants at the Lord's Supper.
First of all, he says, "A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup" (1 Corinthians 11:28). In other words, the Lord's Supper is only for those who realize and confess all their sins before God.
Secondly, St. Paul writes: "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:27). What does Paul mean: "in an unworthy manner"? Since forgiveness is offered in the Lord's Supper, someone who is living in impenitence or denying a teaching of Scripture would not be "prepared." The Lord's Supper is only for those repentant believers who accept all the teachings of Scripture, nothing more and nothing less.
Thirdly, St. Paul writes: "For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11:29). One specific belief of the Christian church that Paul mentions is the belief that in the Lord's Supper all communicants - whether believer or unbeliever - receive Jesus' very own body and blood in and with the bread and wine. The Christian receives it for his benefit; the unbeliever receives it to his judgment. Many in the Christian church deny this central Christian truth, however. For such a person Paul has a stern warning: that he "eats and drinks judgment on himself."
Dr. Martin Luther summarized these three points in his Small Catechism, writing: ". he is properly prepared who believe these words: 'Given' and 'poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.' But whoever does not believe these words or doubts them is not prepared, because the words 'for you' require nothing but hearts that believe."
Now, what if you agree with all these "provisions" set down in Scripture? What if you confess all your sins, believe that Jesus has freely forgiven all your sins, accept all the teachings of Scripture and believe that in the Lord's Supper you are truly receiving Jesus' very own body and blood? Are you welcome to commune at Martin Luther Church, even if you're a member of another Christian church body? In such a case there is one more thing that the Bible mentions: "Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Corinthians 10:17), We who receive the Lord's Supper together form "one body" - united by our common faith. For that reason, we ask that before someone communes with us, they join us in confessing a common faith - by becoming a member of our church, or of a church with which we are in fellowship. Needless to say, holding membership in one church body while communing in another is a confusing and potentially unloving action. That's why we ask even Christians who are not members of our congregation to refrain from the Lord's table until they have been informed about our church body and until the pastor has been informed about their beliefs.
As you can surely see, this can sometimes be a sensitive issue. Please do not hesitate to ask one of our pastors if you have any further questions. » top «
How old and how large is Martin Luther Church?
Martin Luther Church was begun in 1941, as a daughter congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church in Neenah. We currently have just under 1000 baptized members.