FAQ's about the Divine Service
Q. Why is the service so structured? Doesn’t that make it easy for people to just go through the motions without their hearts
really being in it? Doesn’t all that structure restrict the work of the Holy Spirit?
A. Our services are structured because the Scriptures tell us that our worship should be orderly and decent
(1 Corinthians 14:40). And when you think about it, pretty much any Christian worship service is governed by some sort of
structure. Even a contemporary praise service typically has a structure that goes something like this: prayers, readings, a
sermon, and sometimes communion (all with worship songs interspersed throughout). Each congregation that uses this
type of order probably does it a little bit differently, but the underlying structure can still be clearly perceived.
The Lutheran Divine Service is structured differently than a contemporary praise service because it aims to achieve
different goals. While a contemporary service seeks to build up the emotions of the worshipers and make them “feel” the
presence of God, the Divine Service presents God’s gifts to sinners in an objective, indisputable manner. Basing your faith
on your ability to muster powerful emotions is dangerous, because many times the emotions don’t come, and that
introduces doubt into your heart as to whether you have the Holy Spirit or not. But in the Divine Service, emotions are
not the goal; instead, the goal is to give the worshipers God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament in a way that does not create
doubt or uncertainty. The preached Word of God proclaims the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ to all who trust in
Him, regardless of how they may feel about it at any given moment. The Sacraments are there no matter how distracted
or disinterested we may be. Yes, it is certainly possible to go through the motions of the liturgy without “your heart really
being in it,” but isn’t that true of anything we do? Even the most “fired-up” praise service has plenty of people in it who
just aren’t feeling it that day. And in that environment, not being “on fire” for Jesus leads to doubts about your salvation.
It’s much better to be in a liturgical worship environment when you aren’t “feeling it,” because there you at least know that
God’s gifts in Christ are still present. It doesn’t depend on what you’re doing to try to ascend the emotional heights to
heaven; it depends on what God’s doing to come down to earth and give you His gifts in Christ.
Q. Why does the service have so many specific elements that you repeat every week? Where do those come from?
A. They actually come straight from the Bible! If you look on the right side of any given page in the hymnal, you’ll notice that
each element of the liturgy has a Bible reference next to it. Each responsive reading or canticle is taken directly from the
Bible passage that is referenced on the page. We draw our liturgy directly from the Scriptures in order that our singing
and praying may be drawn from the words that have come to us from God. We do not rely on our human “creativity” to
invent new forms of worship; we recognize that the human heart is imperfect and sinful. Instead, we use what we know
is perfect and true: the Word of God. Each element of the liturgy has been incorporated into the service in its proper
place for different reasons. If you would like to find out more about a specific portion of the liturgy and why it is
used, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our pastors!
Q: Why do you use the hymnal so much in worship services? Wouldn’t it be easier to print out the entire service or project it
onto a screen?
A. Our reasons for using the hymnal are mostly practical. We invested a large amount of financial resources to purchase
these hymnals when they were published in 2006, and many of the funds for that purchase were provided to us by
designated gifts from Trinity members. It would be a tremendous waste to buy those hymnals and never use them. It
also would be a waste of paper to print out our services every week, and we don’t want to unnecessarily use up our
natural resources with which God has blessed us.
We don’t project our services on a screen because there really isn’t a good place to put a screen in our sanctuary. The
logistics of installing a screen and a projection system would probably be insurmountable, unless we wanted to
completely ruin the look and character of the sanctuary. A screen simply would not be pleasing to the eye, and so we
have decided not to use one.
Q. The service is so hard for me to follow! I always feel like I’m three steps behind everyone else. Does it ever get any easier?
A. It does get a lot easier! As you attend multiple Divine Services, you will find that you get a much better sense of the
rhythm of the service and how it flows from one element to the next. In fact, figuring out the liturgy and feeling like you’re
on top of things during the service is one way you know that you’ve “arrived” as a Lutheran! Those who gradually become
more and more familiar with the Divine Service often come to realize what a great treasure it is for the worshiper. So our
exhortation to you would be: Don’t get discouraged! Nobody was born knowing the liturgy by heart; we all had to learn it
and master it at some point. Ask some fellow worshipers to assist you, and they will be glad to oblige!