Saturday, May 06, 2006

Survey for Lutherans

I have lived in the same place, attended the same church for quite some time. I don’t often get to attend other churches due to distance or having to travel on a Sunday when visiting relatives, most of whom are Lutheran.

I've been reading lots of Lutheran blogs, which has led me to the conclusion that Lutheran churches may have different styles of worship, perhaps depending on the types of members and especially on the interests and styles of the pastors.

I'd be interested in finding out how other churches work so that I can get a sense of the sameness or uniqueness of various Lutheran churches. Answer whatever you can or write a narrative about your church, either here or at your blog, but put the URL in the comments section.

1. What is the approximate numbers who worship on a Sunday morning? How many services? Are there midweek worship opportunities? Why? Are there any outreach worship services?

2. Do people travel a long way to this church? Are there other Lutheran churches people can choose from without traveling more than 15 miles? Is your church in a tiny town, rural area, small city, big city?

3. What age groups does your church attract? Since younger adults often don’t attend church, if you do have lots of young adults, do you know what brings them to your church? Do you have a youth group? Do you have adults who volunteer to help? Do you pay a youth leader?

4. Does this church have a mixture of ethnic backgrounds? Does this church have mostly people who were always Lutheran or does it have many people who came from other types of denominations? If your church has people of mixed denominational backgrounds, do you know why they come to your church?

5. How many pastors does your church have? Other employees who do ministry, such as a youth director or parish nurse?

6. Would you say that your church has a strong pastoral leadership style or a style of lots of lay leaders, committees, that are active and that the pastor can delegate to? Other styles? Does your church have any lay people who are willing to be the worship leader at a Sunday service? Lay people who preach? Lay people who visit the shut-ins? Lay people who help serve communion? Other opportunities for lay people? If you are in a church where the pastor is in charge of everything, what do you think would happen if a new pastor wanted the people to be part of the ministry? Is your pastor pulled in many directions, in danger of being over committed and worn out? Do you think that most people realize all that a pastor does?

7. What is the worship style of your church? Green book? Blue book? Maroon book? Your own music or books? Liturgical? Formal? Informal? Mixed even in the same service? Different services for different types of styles? Do you have an organ, piano, guitar, other instruments? Does the pastor or worship leader sing the liturgy? Choir? Mostly traditional hymns? Newer praise music? Music from various ethnic backgrounds, even if your people are not of that background? Who decides what hymns will be sung and what liturgical setting will be used?

8. Is your church building a "traditional" style building? More modern style? Older building remodeled into a modern style? Explain. Do you think that the style of the building influences they style of the worship?

9. Have you had a woman as president of the church or council? Have you had a woman pastor or a woman in another leadership position? If so, is there anything notable in the way the woman was view in that role?


  1. Good questions! I'll respond to them a bit later...

  2. I answered these at my blog. Good questions.

  3. 1. Our regular Sunday worshippers have increased in number from about 89-90 to about 110-115. We also attract about a dozen or so people to a Wednesday evening "Gospel" Eucharist with old-time Gospel music. (We started this service because we realized there were so many people connected to our church who worked weekend shifts, or who went away weekends. I think the choice of music just "happened.")

    2. We are in a tiny hamlet that consists of two churches, a diner and a post office. The nearest Lutheran churches are another ELCA church and an LCMS church about 20 miles away, in the next town. We have an increasing number of commuters. I myself drive about 50 miles roundtrip to church and back home; and several of our other members have longer commutes.

    3. We have a remarkably age-integrated congregation, except for 20-somethings; just a couple of those. And we also have the odd phenomenon -- maybe it's not odd? -- of a huge and faithful midweek confirmation/high school group who are nonetheless loathe to attend church on Sundays. Our pastor facilitates the youth group; we also have a lay catechist who is not paid.

    4. Our church began as one of what are called "family churches" -- everyone was pretty much related by blood or marriage -- started by German-Americans who'd moved to this area from Ohio. Now we have a variety of ethnic backgrounds represented, including one Latino-/German-American family. We have attracted a lot of ex-RCC's; I think partly due to their policies regarding divorce and remarriage, but I think also because of a general disenchantment with some of the dynamics happening in that church. We've also attracted refugees from fundamentalist churches. I would say that our congregation, right now, is in a place where maybe a third up to a half of the regular worshippers are people without a prior Lutheran background or with one so marginal that they may as well have been non-Lutherans.

    5. We have one pastor. That's it. Our other helpers are all unpaid.

    6. We have strong lay leadership at our church -- and strong lay presence in the worship service itself. Our pastor has a real talent for empowering and facilitating laypeople. On the other hand, I know that a lot of people have joined our church pretty much on the strength of his personality, pastoral counseling and preaching style. And, no, I don't think most people in any church know what all a pastor does.;-)

    7. We use the canned bulletin liturgy (which I think is more or less taken from WOV) -- spoken, not sung; for some reason our congregation has a terrible time getting through a sung liturgy, something that grieves me because I love sung liturgies. Usually on a given Sunday our hymn choices include Lutheran/Anglican "chestnuts," more contemporary hymns from WOV and 19th-century come-to-Jesus stuff. Our worship committee and the pastor work out the hymns.

    8. We have a traditional, WW-I-era church building but are building a rather contemporary addition to it. The schematics make the design make sense.;-) I'm not sure that the style of worship is influenced so much by traditional vs. contemporary per se, but I think it IS influenced by catholic vs. "big box evangelical-style."

    9. Yes, we've had women council presidents. Our "first among equals" lay leader is a woman who'd been attending seminary until family responsibilities led her to move back to her hometown; she does a lot of preaching and worship leadership if the pastor isn't here, and she also teaches catechism.

  4. 1. The 8:30 service is labeled the contemporary service, but it's not a band or anything too similar to one (pianist, two acoustic guitars, and a mandolin). That service uses the WOV. I think that one averages 30 or so worshippers.

    The second service (11:00) averages 100 or more worshippers. It uses the LBW, but the setting depends on the season of the year (and occasionally we'll use a different liturgy). Both worship services use hymns from both blue and green books.

    During Lent we have mid-week worship. We don't have any outreach services (I don't think it would work in the community we live).

    2. Our community is in a transition phase. We were a small southern city, but we are now becoming a suburb to Charlotte. We are the only Lutheran church in our city's limits, but within a 5 mile radius are two other congregations and there are plenty more as you expand further out.

    3. We have people of all ages here. A huge amount of young kids, a decent number of youth (that on average are mediocre in their attendance), I'm the only young adult that's single, several young couples, and more adults all the way up the ages.

    As I said, our community is becoming a suburb for Charlotte, but it is a vuburb for young couples that are starting families. Single young adults are mostly living in Charlotte for its scene, but once they get married they consider moving to the 'burbs.

    I'm in charge of the youth program (and I'm paid); there wasn't much of a program before I got here, so attendance tends to be weak for the high schoolers (they aren't accustomed to coming). Middle schoolers are doing alright. We have a great weekly children's program. Volunteering by adults is probably average or a little above (it's the 80/20 rule for many things, though).

    4. Unfortunately, no. We have one child that is an adopted native american. Many adults were members of other denominations, but they became Lutheran through marriage (but many of those are now our best teachers of Lutheran theology).

    5. One pastor. I'm the "Director of Youth and Family Ministry". A husband and wife team are part time and do the music director/organist roles.

    6. The pastor and I are both the type that will to have lay people and committees to delegate to. For the most part, we have that. However, the congregation had a pastor that remainded here for 36 years until he retired in the early 90s (and he's still a member). It wasn't so much him but his wife that did everything. The congregation became so ingrained during that time to allow the leadership do all the work that it is still a struggle over ten years later to get the congregation to realize what is their responsibility.

    7. I sort of described this answer in #1. But I'd describe the worship as informal-liturgical. We are somewhat formal, but underneath anything that appears formal, we all are laid back. The music folk select hymns, but major worship decision are made with the pastor, the musicians, and the Worship & Music Committee.

    8.Traditional. the worship space was built in the early part of the last century. The educational building was built in the 50s. However, the offices and fellowship hall were added in the mid-80s. There is talk of tearing down the the educational building in a few years to expand things, but I don't think they'll touch the nave (even though we already have Sundays that are crammed and weddings are very selective on who will fit in there).

    9. No female pastors yet, but our current president is a female and I'm sure we've had other female presidents in the past. If the congregation were to have a female pastor, she'd be the first one in the whole town. However, I know of other Lutheran congregations in the county that have female pastors, so it won't be too much of a shock. As for a female president, I don't think she is viewed any different than when a man holds the position.

  5. (This is off topic from this particular post)

    I was rereading some old comments on my blog and I came across yours. I read it before but a couple of questions you posed jumped out at me this time through it.

    You said: Is there no place on TV for some Christian moderates? Have we no taste for this mission? Or has God told us not to go in that direction?

    and Should the rest of American Christianity have a counter attack?

    I wonder if the internet is a more useful tool for moderate Christians than tv/radio has been for us. Particularly the blogosphere.

    With religion, I see the tv as being useful in getting a message out there to huge masses (no matter how crass the message is). But there is no discussion or debate. You watch the preacher and that is it. I don't think that formula fits with moderate Christians because we do discuss and debate. Also, we feel our call to outreach is through personal relationships, not through impersonal broadcasts to who ever might be watching.

    However, we see in the internet (and blogs in particular) the ability to debate and discuss. Granted, sacraments and hugs aren't shared through the internet, but personal, trusted relationship can and are built.

    Although it has not reached its full potential (and perhaps it never will), the blogosphere is capable of being better tool for us than tv ever was. And I have seen on the internet Christians (not of the moderate persuasion) fail tremendously in trying to state their faith or discuss it. It seems as if the preacher on the screen (or a similar preacher in the pulpit) has become a crutch for them.

    I haven't put too much thought into all of that, it simply came to mind when I read your questions. Sorry for hijacking your comments section. ;) Happy blogging!

  6. 1. We have 3 services with approx. 600 total in worship on a Sunday. We have a Wednesday evening service with perhaps 100 (this is usually more of a deeper teaching/equipping type of service than is Sunday’s). Our worship team (band) has played at the local mall a couple times to bless those who are there.
    2. Most people are pretty local but we have some who drive 20 min or more to join us for worship. We live in a near suburb of Minneapolis so there are tons of Lutheran churches within 15 minutes of ours.
    3. We have lots of families with kids so we have a large youth (Jr. and Sr. High) group and children’s (Pre-K to grade 6) ministry. The children worship together and have some teaching and then split into age groups for small group teaching/fellowship time. The youth now worship in with the adults in church and then during the sermon go to the youth room for their own teaching time. This happens during the middle service on a Sunday. We also have children’s ministry in a more limited way during the 3rd service. We pay a youth pastor and prefer the youth pastor to be married. We have probably 60 adults who volunteer in various capacities. We have children’s and youth ministry all year long in this way.
    4. We have a growing number of African immigrants worshipping with us. We have MANY ex-Catholics and ex-whatever other denominations. Most feel “at home” when they come to visit our church and they just end up staying. Many have been drawn by clear biblical teaching. Some have been blessed through our deliverance and inner healing ministries. Our Care Team ministry (ala Ken Houts) has also blessed quite a few people and many have stayed around. Some later said their visit was the last chance they were giving the church and or God. It seems we have a lot of women who attend whose husband does not and an increasing number of men who attend whose wife does not.
    5. We have 2 paid pastors, one paid youth minister, paid music and children’s ministry staff, paid prayer counseling staff member, paid Care Team Ministry staff member, paid wedding coordinator/kitchen coordinator.
    6. We have strong pastoral leadership yet strong lay leadership. Church council members serve communion and count offerings (as well as serve on their assigned council committees). There are laypeople who teach children, teens and adults. Essentially our pastoral staff is very committed to equipping the people to do the work of the ministry. The pastors do most of the preaching and public teaching as far as sermons and equipping seminars go.
    7. I think it is the worship ministry leader who chooses the songs. We have one service in which a some of the liturgy is used (confession, creed, Lord’s Prayer) but we have no books in the sanctuary aside from bibles. In this service the music is usually provided by organ and grand piano. We use a screen to project words to songs and spoken parts of the liturgy. The other two services are mostly completely modern praise and worship (often the songs are no more than 10 years old, many are within a year or two of when they were written). We have two praise bands who trade off weeks or trade off playing for Sun vs Wed. They include drums, percussion, keyboards, guitar (usually both and electric and acoustic), and bass. We also have a person who, as the spirit moves her, dances with flags during praise and worship time.
    8. It wasn’t too long ago that we had a new worship space added on to our building. It is a modern style and is somewhat multipurpose in terms of being able to use it for the children’s Christmas play for example. It was planned to be multiuse and expandable in the future if it needs to be enlarged. There are mostly pews but the front 4 rows or so are movable chairs for more flexibility in terms of how the space is to be used. During the Saturday of Holy week for example we bring in a large portable hot tub to be used for baptisms or rededications and so the chairs must be moved a bit to accommodate it and all the Easter garden surrounding it.

    10. We have had a woman church council president and we have had women serve as pastoral interns during their seminary time.

  7. 1. We have two services. The later service, which I attend, has about 100-150 people per week. I think the earlier service is around the same. There is a mid-week service during Advent and Lent. There isn't during the rest of the year simply because so many people come from pretty far away.

    2. Yes. There is one other ELCA church and one two LCMS churches in our city. The next closest churches are about 70 miles away in either direction. Our town is a college town/small city/state capitol.

    3. We have a pretty good mix of age groups. A number of young families, a number of young adults, and a number of older folks. Our young adult group regularly has about 15 people in their mid 20s through their mid 30s. If I had to guess what brings them to church...I have no idea. I think the fact that it is a very welcoming, open congregation has a lot to do with it. We do have a youth group, but we honestly only have about 15 kids in grades 7-12. We have a stronger college group, however. WE do not have a paid youth leader, but we do have a number of young adults who volunteer.

    4. We have a fairly good mix, which is surprising in this area. We have several African-American families, several Asian families, and a couple Hispanic families. We have a fair number of folks who have come from other denominations, including yours truly. I think they have ended up in the Lutheran church because they were looking for a liturgical church that had a theology than the Catholic or Baptist churches. Interesting, most of the people in our congregation have come from other areas of the country.

    5. We have one pastor and one office manager.

    6. Strong lay leadership. We do have lay people who lead worship when the pastor isn't available, but we are also blessed to have a retired pastor and a pastor who isn't currently active in ministry (her husband is the pastor of a church in another denomination here, and she is currently working in hospice and raising their children). I think our pastor has managed to strike a solid balance. He does a lot, but he seems to still have time for his wife and family.

    7. Mostly the green book, although we are soon switching to whatever color the new book is. The early service uses WOV every week. The later service uses the hymns in WOV once a month, and the setting Now the Feast by Marty Haugen. The choir director also brings in other hymns on occasion. We mainly have organ at the later service, piano at the early one, but other instruments are brought in on occasion. The choir director (who is a doctoral student in choral direction) and the pastor choose the music. We are lucky enough to be in a university town with a strong music department. We attract a lot of music majors who want to gain the experience of singing traditional sacred music.

    8. We have a traditional building that still manages to have a contemporary feel. I don't know if the building style influences worship, but that's a pretty good description of our liturgies, too.

    9. Don't know on the president of the church council - I haven't been around long enough. We do have a lot of women in leadership positions, though. And the retired and non-active pastors we have in our congregation are both women. It seems to me that nobody in our congregation has issues with women in position of authority, and if they do, no one has expressed it.


And what do you think?