I'm New - What Should I Expect?
Concordia is a church that values 3 primary things: being connected to God and to each other, being equipped by God and one another to be able to live the Christian life with joy, and reaching out to one another in love and to those who don't know the love of Jesus.
Worship Gatherings for Divine Service
Sundays are a primary time when we are connected to God and one another, equipped by His gifts, and then sent out to reach the world with His grace. The Greek word often used for "church" is ekklēsia, which literally means "assembly". Local churches are often called "congregations", because that's really the primary activity: to congregate, to assemble, to gather.
So when thinking about worship at Concordia, you can expect to come to a place where our gatherings are focused primarily on God's gifts to us: His Word (the Bible) and the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord's Supper), and then also with the faith-filled response of God's people (singing, prayer, praise). This is what has been called for centuries Divine Service, where God - the Divine - serves us with His gifts, and then we serve Him in response with thanksgiving and praise.
9:00am Divine Service uses the traditional Lutheran liturgy and traditional hymns accompanied by piano or organ. It is a more formal order of service, and you will find the rich tradition of our Lutheran heritage. Our 11:00 gathering does this using a more recent order of service that is less formal, yet still generally follows a historic Christian order, with songs led by a a variety of instruments: voices, guitars, keyboards, drums, percussion, violin, and more. Though more informal, this service still puts a strong emphasis on receiving God's gifts of Word and Sacrament, and encourages people to respond in faith.
Being that we're in the Okanagan, overall our atmosphere is fairly relaxed. Some will wear suits or dresses on Sunday morning; some will wear slacks, jeans, (shorts when it's particularly hot out!), button-down shirts, t-shirts, etc. We seek to be respectful of those around us and to honour God with our dress, and yet the most important thing is not what we wear but that we come to receive God's good gifts and respond with thanksgiving. God's gifts don't depend on how nice of clothes we can afford or how well we sing; He serves us because He loves us. In turn, we offer our best to Him because He deserves it and has given us all we have.
Other Worship Gatherings
We come together at other times than Sunday mornings during the year as well. Most especially we gather on Wednesday evenings during the seasons of Advent (the four weeks before Christmas) and Lent (the six weeks before Easter). During these times we use simpler orders of worship such as Evening Prayer, Vespers, or the Service of Prayer and Preaching. There are also songs accompanied by piano, organ, or guitar, and different styles of preaching and teaching.
"The 40": More on Sunday Mornings
We enjoy getting together before and after our worship gatherings, and there's a time of visiting and refreshments - we call it "Coffee-Fellowship" and it starts around 10am when the 9:00 gathering is finished. We also gather in smaller groups from 10:15-10:55am on Sunday mornings where we have age-appropriate classes. We believe worship is for all ages, and so we invite all to come to worship together, no matter what age you are. But we also know that it's valuable to have time for age-appropriate teaching and activities. So "The 40" (named because it's 40 minutes long) is a time when we have our Agape Kids children's ministry, youth classes, and adult Bible study. All are welcome to these groups.
School and Preschool
If you're new to Concordia you also need to know that we have two school ministries: a preschool for ages 3-4, and an elementary school that runs from Kindergarten through Grade 6. The schools lead to lively days filled with activity during the school year!
Vocation, Groups, Serving, and Giving
Another part of our life together as a congregation is the life we live outside of Sunday mornings. When people think of "church", they generally think of Sunday mornings (or whenever worship services are held). While that is the primary activity of a congregation, there are about 167 more hours in a week when we are the people of God. We can think of our congregational life in four really broad categories: vocation, groups, serving, and giving.
The word vocation is a rather rare one in our society. Most people think of it as meaning "a job" or a career. But it's really the idea that wherever we are in life, God calls us to serve Him there. (The word comes from the Latin word vocare, which means "calling".) So vocation means serving God by being faithful moms, dads, children, employees, employers, teammates, etc. Often we think serving God is done by "going to church" or working as a pastor or something. But a good understanding of vocation helps us understand that no matter what our situation of life, we are called by God into serving in the midst of that. It's really a freeing thing! Martin Luther once said that changing a baby's diaper was a holy calling, because it was part of the vocation of parenthood, caring for children and raising them well. So we see vocation as very important in our congregation. We don't want to "over-program" ourselves at the church building, because that could actually hinder the fulfillment of our vocations; we want to allow our people to serve God where they are through their various vocations.
As important as vocation is, being together in groups within the church is beneficial too. So we have some larger groups—such as our Elements sessions led by our pastor—and some small groups, such as a women's group that meets for study and personal support. Small groups are fluid and form as needed, and we are always seeking to grow the number of people in groups.
There are a lot of things that need to be done in a congregation, from ushering and music leading in worship, to accounting, to property care, to visiting, to setting up special events, and much more. We value serving in ways that will help others, and many times one way to do that is just to "get stuff done". There is always need for servants and serving; some of our immediate needs are listed here on the site.
Giving is last on the list not because it's least important, but because it comes as a result of the vitality of the rest of life. Finances are a reality of the church, just like any organization. But we see them also as a great blessing from God. He has given us all we have. We don't really own anything; we are just stewards—managers—of what God has entrusted to us to use. We encourage one another to give regularly and generously, so that we can do the work of God's kingdom together in ways that none of us could do on our own. We seek to give generously and cheerfully out of a heart of thankfulness to God, not out of guilt or compulsion. So we have a time for offerings in our worship services, and sometimes we'll do fundraising for specific efforts such as our Compassionate Care Fund or our school ministries.
If you're wondering about something else specifically, please don't hesitate to contact us. Our office will put you in touch with someone who can help find answers to your questions!