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. We hope to do all we can so you can learn about your Savior.
“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?” We don’t want you to feel that you are in a room full of strangers, so right before the service starts, the Pastor may invite us to greet the people sitting near us. There is just enough time to shake a few hands, say “hi”, and ask a quick question.
“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 Living Hope Church as full of ordinary people. We’re not perfect, that’s why we rejoice in the wonderful news of grace through Jesus Christ. Bibles and hymn books are located in the pews. The service-folder/bulletin will have page numbers for the Bible verses and hymns, as well as a simple outline of the service to help you follow along.
“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 the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. It takes time for this to be cultivated. People need time to evaluate and pray for guidance if they want to get further involved.
“I don’t know that much about the Bible.” There are no “super-Christians” at Living Hope Church. None of us have our Bibles completely memorized. If we did, we might feel that church was unnecessary. 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. And remember, sometimes the wisest words we say are, “I don’t know.”
“Most churches I’ve been to are filled with ‘hypocrites.” This is a common complaint about many types of organizations, whether public organizations or religious ones. 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” (Matthew 9:12). Jesus is the Great Physician of our souls. So don’t come to Living Hope Church expecting to find perfect people. We’re far from perfect! As one bumper sticker says: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”
We believe that we are not saved by our good works. We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). The Holy Spirit is the one who creates faith (trust) in our hearts through the hearing of God’s Word and partaking in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion (Romans 10:17). Just as God gives us our physical life as a free gift (we do nothing to earn or deserve it), so also he gives us our new spiritual life as a free gift (we do nothing to earn or deserve it). In other words, we do not make “our decision for Jesus.” Jesus chooses us simply by his grace (undeserved love).