To arrange for your first visit to Bethel, please email us at email@example.com or call our New Visitors Hotline: 303-364-2245.
Over time, we’ve seen that many people have similar questions about our church. Here are the answers to the most frequent questions we find that people are wondering about when they consider attending a new church.
What does Lutheran mean?
The Lutheran Church began on October 31, 1517, in what is now Germany, when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, published his Ninety-five Theses and launched the Protestant Reformation. However, today, Lutherans are a worldwide and diverse group representing many nationalities and ethnic groups. Lutheran services are conducted in the native language of the local congregation. At Bethel, our services are in English. Lutherans have a particularly well developed theology that centers on the idea of God’s abundant love and grace that is freely given to us through Jesus Christ. It is important to note that Lutherans do not worship Luther, rather, they simply respect him as an individual who came up with important and meaningful ideas based on his study of holy Scripture.
Are Lutherans a cult?
By no means. All of our services and congregational meetings are open to the public, although only members may vote during congregational meetings. There are no secret practices or teachings. In fact, the Bible, the ecumenical creeds, and the confessions of the Lutheran Church, which state what Lutherans believe, are freely published and widely available to scholars, theologians, and interested members of the public. If you are interested in this, please reference the following: the Holy Bible, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Book of Concord.
Who are the members of Bethel and what to you believe?
The short answer is that we are everyday people who believe that God loves us because, well, he just does. That’s it – God Is Love!
Here’s a somewhat longer and more complete answer…
We at Bethel are a diverse group of Christians who, touched by the Holy Spirit, have faith in a loving God who reaches down to us and forgives us and saves us through his grace. Because of this, we are now free to be the joyous and loving children of God. And, because of this, we want to reach out to help others in need. We believe that God has given his only begotten son to die for us and redeem us from our sin. We also believe that God reveals himself to us through scripture. We are not perfect, but we are all repentant sinners, forgiven and saved by God’s mercy and grace. We stand firmly in the Theology of the Cross which puts God and his grace at the center. We are saved…
By Word – By Faith – By Grace – By Christ
What will my first visit to Bethel be like?
Our church can be hard to spot – it’s hidden behind some huge, old trees. If you are heading north on Airport Blvd. and miss the turn-in just south of the church, no worries. There is another driveway on the north side of the church, too. Just find a spot in the parking lot which is in back of the church. The main entrance to the church faces the parking lot – so you don’t have to walk back around the building to go inside. We have greeters at the door. That’s just us, the members of the church – we take turns. The greeter will give you a warm welcome and likely recognize that you are new. The greeter will direct you to your right towards the sanctuary. There, one of us will be handing out bulletins for the upcoming worship service.
Think of the bulletin as your “program” for an upcoming event. You are free to choose an empty seat to your liking. Here’s a helpful hint: try to sit behind some other people. That way, you can follow their lead when they stand up or sit down. The organist/pianist will play some music and the praise teams will sing some opening songs. Feel free to join in or to just listen. The words to the songs the congregation sings will either be in the bulletin or the hymnals. Lately, we have been trying to minimize the amount of paper waste we generate and are leaning towards using the hymnals.
Then the pastor walks down the aisle and wishes everyone a good morning and makes some opening remarks. The pastor will ask if there are any visitors who would like to introduce themselves. This is the time when many people introduce relatives who are visiting from out of town or friends who are visiting for the first time. If you are a new visitor and don’t know a soul here, don’t worry, you do not have to introduce yourself unless you are comfortable doing so.
At this point, we sing our opening hymn. The acolytes (these are like altar girls and altar boys) will walk down the center aisle and light the candles on the altar. The service continues and follows the bulletin. The pastor will say, “Please stand” or “Please be seated” as necessary. There will be two readings from the Bible, followed by a reading from the Gospel by the pastor. We stand when the Gospel is read. Next comes the pastor’s sermon. Okay, let’s get down to the bottom line – the sermon will NOT be boring! It will show you how to apply the readings you have just heard to your everyday life. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Now the offering is collected. As the offering is brought forward to the altar, we stand and sing. If we are having communion, the pastor will then explain the procedure and the ushers will guide each row when it is time to walk forward. Communion is completely optional. If you are not taking communion, you may simply remain in your seat. You may notice that some Lutherans bless themselves with the sign of the cross but, probably, most don’t nowadays. If you are not familiar with this custom, you don’t have to worry about it. The service ends with a blessing and a closing hymn usually followed by some announcements. If we happen to announce that we need to get a large crew of folks together to plow the back forty this afternoon (okay, this is just a humorous example), we are certainly not addressing these remarks to you, the new, first-time visitor.
As we leave our seats and exit towards the back of the sanctuary, we form a line and greet the pastor as we leave. Where are we headed? I don’t know about you, but if it’s time for fellowship hour, I am heading over to the fellowship hall for coffee and doughnuts. See you there!
What is a Lutheran worship service like?
Our worship services are enjoyable, uplifting, and inspiring. We have both traditional and contemporary worship services. The traditional service consists of certain parts in a particular order. We follow certain words called the liturgy. We sing hymns, pass the peace of the lord, hear readings and the Gospel followed by a sermon, make an offering, have communion, and finish with a blessing. The contemporary services are more free-form and use more modern music. We have adult and child choirs, and youth and child bell choirs. We also have praise teams that accompany the service: Grace Flows Down, and Sounds of Joy. Piano and organ music usually accompany our services. Sometimes, other groups and ensembles perform. If you like the music, it’s just fine if you want to applaud in appreciation. Some folks are very animated during the service while others are more restrained. However, just about everyone is happy and relaxed.
Where do Lutheran pastors come from?
Lutheran pastors have typically grown up in Christian families and feel called to serve God. First, they must attend a four-year college and obtain a baccalaureate degree. After that, they are admitted to seminary. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America maintains its own seminaries. While in seminary, students serve an internship in the field, working with local congregations and ministries. Upon graduation from seminary, individuals receive a Master of Divinity degree and are ordained. Once ordained, individuals are placed in congregations and other ministerial roles within the church. Lutheran pastors are free to marry. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ordains both men and women and both ordained men and women may serve as bishops. Some pastors decide to further their education and receive a Doctor of Divinity degree.
It sounds like you Lutherans take your faith very seriously, but do you still know how to enjoy yourselves and have some fun?
You bet! Fellowship is a very important part of our spiritual life here at Bethel. If you are so inclined, you can make many meaningful friendships here. You will find that we are genuinely concerned about one another. Also, we participate in many enjoyable activities together. It’s no secret that we often enjoy food and conversation around the table during our fellowship hour. There are many activities for our youth, our seniors, and everyone in between. Also, our faith is wonderfully full of God’s grace and love.
Are the members of Bethel active in the greater community?
Yes, we are. We contribute in many ways through our ministries and benevolences to the greater community. Some examples of this are: the Aurora Interchurch Task Force, the CROP Hunger Walk, the Denver Rescue Mission, Lutheran Family Services of Colorado, and Lutheran World Relief. If you would like, there are many opportunities here at Bethel for you to help your neighbors right here in Colorado.
Do I have to do a lot of memorization to participate in worship?
Not at all. You will be given a bulletin before each worship service that has everything you need in it. Occasionally, we may refer to the hymnal. When that happens, the person leading the service tells you which page to turn to.
How do I know when to stand or sit or kneel?
It’s easy! The individual leading the worship service will say, “Please stand” or “Please be seated.” Also, our pews do not have kneelers, so we don’t kneel in the pews. Sometimes, we kneel at the altar during communion. It’s easy to follow the lead of the people around you.
How do I know what to do and where to go during Communion?
Still easy! The ushers guide you and the person leading the worship service always gives plain and clear directions. Once again, it’s easy to follow the lead of the people around you. You are not required to take Communion, but you may choose to do so.
Do I have to be able to sing well to participate in and enjoy the worship experience?
How much you sing is up to you. You might know some songs while others may be new to you. Some people listen to the first verse to see how the melody goes and then join in. The praise team provides a great lead for our singing.
I don’t have the time to participate in many activities and can’t always make it to church on Sunday. Will I be accepted at Bethel?
We’re very glad to see you when you can visit us, but nobody’s watching you and taking attendance.
I have kids / don’t have kids. I’m married / single / divorced / widowed. I’m young / middle-aged / old. I’m this / that / whatever. Is there a place for me at Bethel?
We at Bethel are called to welcome ALL people. This is consistent with our congregation’s Vision Statement.
I was baptized as an adult or as an infant in another denomination, or I have not been baptized. How is that handled?
Once baptized, always baptized. Individuals who have been baptized can join our congregation by a profession of faith. Non-baptized individuals can join by baptism. Lutherans may join by transferring their membership from another congregation. Lutherans generally baptize by the pouring of water, not by full immersion.
Can differently enabled persons participate at Bethel?
Yes. Bethel’s facilities are handicapped accessible. There is ample handicapped parking available. We have an excellent, amplified sound system. We can provide large print bulletins with prior notice.
If I want to learn more about being a Christian and being a Lutheran, what can I do?
We offer Bible Study and Sunday School for adults and youth. Young Lutherans study as a group to prepare for Confirmation which represents a mature and public confession of faith. Adults may attend new member classes. Our Pastor is also available to consult with you and answer your questions. You are not under any pressure or obligation to join our church – we welcome visitors. Feel free to experience Bethel as a visitor for as long as you would like. If you should decide you would like to join our congregation, you will be welcome to do so.
I feel like I’m not worthy of God’s love. My faith isn’t strong enough. I haven’t performed enough good deeds. I don’t always do the right thing. How can God love me and how can I be accepted at Bethel?
Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul felt the same way. Five hundred years ago, a man named Martin Luther asked similar questions. Today, many Christians are still asking these questions. Come worship with us and learn about the gift of God’s love and grace, freely given to us through Jesus Christ.
Please read the following words from our pastor:
“At the heart of our church is the foundation of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. This love cannot be earned or bought, but is given to us freely, without strings, through our Lord. We believe all people have a place with us in worship, children to seniors, new to the faith or those raised in the faith. God is at work, alive and well with us. So we celebrate this love that constantly surrounds and fills us.
If you are searching for a church or desire to discover more about God’s love, we invite you to join us. We know it can be intimidating visiting a church for the first time, but know you are welcome. Come with your questions and feel free to ask!”
Pastor Barb Lemke
To arrange for your first visit to Bethel, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our New Visitors Hotline: 303-364-2245.