A Visitor’s Guide to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
A Note From Our Pastor
If you’re visiting this page, you’ve probably got some questions and you’re looking for answers. We understand it can be hard to visit a church for the first time. Mailings and newspaper ads just don’t answer the many questions you might have. You might ask yourself, “What’s going to happen when I come in the front door?” “How will I know where to go and what to do when I get there?” “What will I do with my children?” “What should I wear?” “What will the service by like?” All kinds of unknown factors can make church seem very intimidating.
With this section we hope to answer some of the questions you might have about our church before you visit. All of us at Zion truly hope to make your visit with us relaxed and enriching.
If any of your questions are not answered below, please let me know so we can add whatever will be helpful to you in this visitor’s guide, because that’s why it exists—to help you, our guest, on your visit to Zion.
Above all, it is my greatest hope that when you visit Zion, you will hear about your Savior Jesus, and through his love you will find life eternal. Thank you for visiting our website and we look forward to meeting you as a guest of our church family very soon!
Your in our Living Savior,
Church Office: 989-845-3006
What is Worship like at Zion?
Every church has its own style of worship. We think you'll enjoy the services at Zion Lutheran Church, but as in any church you should expect to take a couple of Sundays to become accustomed to our way of praising God together.
Each week the service is either entirely printed in the worship folder or the basic parts are printed there to provide reference to our hymnal during the service. All the readings and prayers are always printed there for you. You will also find a brief explanation of the worship theme of the particular Sunday. You are welcome to bring along your own Bible and follow along there if you choose.
Our worship services focus on readings from God's Word--the Bible. There we hear God talk to us. Music and singing are important parts of our worship as well. Loud or soft, in monotone or rich harmony, ancient or contemporary, all our praises are music to the Lord.
I rejoice with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD." ~ Psalm 122:1
Our worship services usually include the following parts in a variety of forms:
The Invocation - We call on the name of our Savior Lord as we praise him with song.
Admitting Sins and Receiving Forgiveness - We acknowledge that we have not been or done what God asks. Then we are assured of forgiveness in Jesus.
Bible Readings - We read selections from God’s Old Testament prophets, Jesus’ apostles, and from Jesus himself. Our pastor also gives a brief explanation of each reading. To help you prepare for worship, you can view the readings from God's Word commonly used in our church for the upcoming Sunday.
Sermon - Our pastor offers instruction and encouragement in a Bible-based sermon for children and adults alike. Young or old, you can expect God’s guidance and grace through his Word for dealing with life's problems, as well as the promise of eternal life in heaven through our only Savior Jesus.
Response to the Word - We respond with offerings and prayers for the things he has promised to us and for strength to do what he has asked.
Parting blessing - Before we return home for the week, we hear one last assurance of the Lord’s gracious care.
Throughout these different parts of our service, we praise our gracious God with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs from the entire history of God's Church. During some services, our members partake of the Lord's Supper. Zion Lutheran Church (and all congregations of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) practice what is called "Close Communion". For an explanation of this practice, please contact Pastor Thomford.
Our worship services use traditional forms, but modern language and application. This "blended" style of worship brings out the best of the traditional and the contemporary. The traditional brings us the best from God's Church throughout the ages, while the contemporary brings God's promises and his will into our daily lives. We hope you will enjoy both as we worship our gracious Lord together!
How Should I Dress?
You might wonder how you are expected to dress at a church you've never visited before. Since the Bible presents no dress code, except for simple decency and Christian humility, Zion doesn'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. Still dress is a personal matter of worship before God. One person may dress casually and rejoice that our gracious Lord accepts us as we are, while another may dress to reflect the awe and reverence we have for our Savior King.
On any Sunday at our church you may see running shoes and heels, jeans and suits, open collars and ties. When a person dresses out of love for his or her Lord, the choice of dress, be it casual or more formal, is acceptable to God . . . and us.
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 church offerings, but God's Word 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. These offering give them the opportunity to not only show love to Christ, but also to support the work of our congregation as we bring the Good News of Christ's love to more people.
We pass an offering plate during the service so that our worship may include bringing gifts to God and we use offering envelopes to keep our gifts a private matter known only to the Lord. Now a child may bring the quarters and dimes his parents give him. Someone older may write a check. Both, however, remember Jesus and give their gifts out of love for him.
As our guest, we will not expect you to contribute an offering, nor do we want to pressure you into doing so. You may wish 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.
What Is the Worst that Can Happen?
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 this or 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." 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 children’s cry room 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 the cry room at the back of the church and in both men's and women's restrooms in the lower level of the Education Wing.
"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 Zion 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."
What About Your Church Body?
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). Our church body started in Milwaukee, WI in the 1850s...hence, the name.
Our membership in the WELS unites us with like-minded Christians across our country and around the world, who share a common faith with us. This "synod" allows us to do jointly work we cannot do on our own. We pool our resources to do mission work at home and abroad, to train young people to serve in public ministry as pastors, teachers and staff ministers, and to put out publications such as hymnals, Bible studies, and other materials. Above all, we find comfort in knowing there are Christians throughout the world who share a common faith with us.
Our congregation and church body are solidly based on the Bible. We believe that Jesus is our only Savior and way to heaven. Through faith we are united to him and to each other.
If you want to know more about what we believe and practice you can visit our synod's page: WELS.net or for a more in-depth look, you can read This We Believe.
The name "Lutheran" comes from the great 16th Century reformer, Martin Luther. At that time in history, the Church had lost sight of its Savior and the truth of his Word. To restore that truth, the Lord used Martin Luther to boldly challenge these errors and preach Jesus Christ as Savior. For this reason, we are proud to remember his work in bringing to light the truth of God’s Word by using his name to identify ourselves.
A Final Note...
We pray that this "Visitor's Guide" has helped answer some of your questions and alleviate your fears. Our goals as a congregation are quite simple. We want to nurture our faith by the teaching of the Lord's pure Word and then to share that faith with people like you--all for the glory of God. Everything we do is meant to accomplish these goals. We pray that there is nothing that will stand in your way from learning more about your Savior.
Please do not hesitate to call Pastor Thomford if you have any questions or if there is anything we can do for you. Our phone number again is:
May our living Savior richly bless you and we look forward to seeing you in church sometime soon!