Visitor and Guest FAQ

Where is St. Mark’s located?
When are services held?
What is St. Mark’s like?
What’s your Sunday worship like?
What is a liturgy?
What is closed or close Communion?
Can I remain anonymous or will I be pointed out to everyone as a visitor?
Is it okay to just watch at first?
What should I wear?
What if I use a wheelchair, or have special vision or hearing needs?
What about an offering?
What about my children?
Do you have Sunday school?
Are there refreshments after the service?
What if I don’t know much about the Bible?
Is your church full of “perfect” people?
How do I find out more about your teachings?
What’s WELS or Wisconsin Synod?
A Final Thought


Where is St.  Mark’s located?
We are at 7869 Kingswood Dr, Citrus Heights, CA 95610.  This is on the corner of Birdcage and Kingswood, just off Sunrise, near Sunrise Mall.

When are services held?
Worship is at 8:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.  on Sundays in our church.  Our Monday Service is at 7:00 p.m.  and is held in our chapel.  This service is smaller and a bit quieter.

What is St.  Mark’s like?
We aren’t a small church, but we aren’t a mega-church either.  Between Sunday and Monday we have about 400 people attend worship services each week.  Our visitors often comment that they like the friendliness of our church.

What’s your Sunday worship like?
Every Christian church has its own style of worshiping Jesus.  We think you’ll enjoy the reverent worship at St.  Mark’s.  However, as with any church you’re not familiar with, you should expect it to take at least a couple Sundays to become accustomed to our worship of Jesus.  We make our worship as easy-to-follow as possible.  Each week an outline of the service is printed in our service folder along with hymnal page references.  The readings are also printed there for you.  Of course, you’re always welcome to bring along your own Bible.

Our worship is liturgical, which means we have a set order of worship every week.  Every Sunday we focus on God’s Word and Sacrament because only through those does God freely offer us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.  In our worship we use traditional forms along with modern language and applications.  The traditional features of our worship bring us the best from God’s Church throughout the ages, while the contemporary features remind us that God’s promises of forgiveness, guidance, and peace still apply to our daily lives.  We pray that through our worship your faith will be strengthened in those promises.

Music is also an important part of our worship.  Through our music we express our thanks to God for his wonderful salvation.  Our powerful hymns remind us of the many wonderful things our Savior has done for us and for our salvation.

What is a liturgy?
The liturgy is our order of service.  Our worship contains many of the same elements as that of the early Christian church.  It includes the following:

    • The Confession of Sins: We confess to God that we have failed to live up to the perfect standards in his law, and we plead for his mercy.
    • The Announcement of Forgiveness: The pastor announces the forgiveness of sins won for us by the perfect life and innocent sufferings and death of Jesus, our Savior.
    • A Song of Praise: These songs of praise remind us of the wonderful things God has done for us, not the least of which is the salvation he gives through Christ.
    • Prayer of the Day: The Church brings her concerns and prayers to a loving Father in heaven, who has shown great mercy and promised to hear our cries for help.
    • Scripture Readings: The pastor reads three selections from the Bible.  They usually include one selection from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament epistles (letters), and one from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John).
    • Sermon: The pastor offers instruction and encouragement in a sermon, usually based on one of the three readings.  Expect to hear God’s guidance for dealing with the problems of life, along with the promises of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven through Jesus.
    • Response to the Word: We respond with offerings and prayers for the things God has promised us and for strength to do what he has asked.
    • Holy Communion: Currently we celebrate Holy Communion on every first and third Sunday of the month.  Before communing, however, we ask our visitors to please speak with the pastor.  As a congregation we practice closed or close communion.  For a further explanation of this practice, please see below.
    • Final Blessing: We hear one last assurance of God’s guidance and love.

What is closed or close communion?
One of the most frequently asked questions people have about worship at St.  Mark’s is our practice of closed or close communion.  First of all, a disclaimer: we do not practice closed Communion to be exclusionary or judgmental.  Nor is it out of a “holier than thou” attitude.  We want all people to join us for this heavenly banquet.  So please don’t think that we want to exclude you.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  That being said, the Scriptures do have some very definite things to say about who is to be invited to the Lord’s table.  That’s why we ask that you talk to a pastor so we have a chance to explain what the Bible teaches about communion more fully.

Can I remain anonymous or will I be pointed out to everyone as a visitor?
We do not ask visitors to stand up and be introduced as some churches do.  Our ushers, greeters, and some regular worshipers will probably greet you as you enter and leave church.  It is up to you whether you wish to have an extended conversation with us.  Many visitors attend several times before they wish to have a conversation.

Is it okay to just watch at first?
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.  People need time to evaluate and decide if they want to get further involved.  We respect that need.

What should I wear?
Sometimes people wonder how they are expected to dress at a church they’ve never visited before.  Since the Bible presents no dress code, aside from simple modesty, we don’t make any rules either.  Like most people, our members try to make their worship time at church a special time.  This is often reflected in the way they dress.  However, on any given Sunday you may see running shoes and high heels, jeans and suits, open collars and ties.  When a person dresses out of love for God, the choice of dress (casual or more formal) is acceptable to God…and us.

What if I use a wheelchair, or have special vision or hearing needs?
Large print copies of the worship folder and hymns are available from the ushers.  We also have PA system receivers with a volume control and headphones that are available.  We have a number of wheelchair accessible parking spaces, and our building is also wheelchair accessible.  If you need any other assistance while you are at St.  Mark’s, please let us know!

What about an offering?
“When will they take the offering?” “How will it be collected?” “How much am I expected to give?” “Do they want visitors to contribute too?” These are typical worries about church offerings.  Members of St.  Mark’s give offerings out of love to the Lord.  The gifts of God are free, and we want the blessings of this service to be a gift to visitors.
For members,  Scripture teaches that our offerings to God should reflect our belief that everything we have is a gift of God.  He does not compel us to give “a tithe” as he did the Old Testament believer.  Instead St.  Paul tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).  In other words, don’t feel compelled by guilt or embarrassment to give an offering.  We want all offerings to be made freely and with joy.  Like most Christians, our members bring offerings to God through their church.  Because offerings are gifts of love for God, no one dictates what each person is to give.  We pass an offering plate after the sermon so that our worship may include bringing gifts to God.

What about my children?
We love to have children and families worship together! The back pews are reserved for families with small children—though you’re welcome up front too.  Sometimes, however, it gets a bit hard for little ones to sit through a service.  That’s why you’ll find a staffed nursery in the back of the church entryway, as well as a privacy room for nursing mothers.

Do you have a Sunday school?
Yes, we do! Sunday school starts at 9:15 a.m.  All the kids (from three-year-olds to 8th graders) meet for a small children’s devotion in our chapel.  After that, the teachers walk the children to the classrooms for age-appropriate lessons.  Parents pick up the children from their respective classrooms at 10:30 a.m.

Teens have their own Bible study, which meets in our teen room, located in the upstairs of the church building.

While they are meeting, parents are more than welcome to choose from our various adult Bible classes offered at the same time.

Are there refreshments after the service?
In between our services, we offer coffee and some occasional refreshments.  During the non-rainy months, coffee is served outside in our Rose Garden.  (If you don’t know where that is, simply follow the long line of people!) During our rainy season, coffee is served in the back of the church entryway.

What if I don’t know much about the Bible?
First a disclaimer: there are no “super-Christians” at St.  Mark’s.  None of us have our Bibles completely memorized (at least not yet!).  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.”

Is your church full of “perfect” people?
No! Our 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” (Mt 9:12).  Jesus is the Great Physician of our souls.  So don’t come to St.  Mark’s expecting to find perfect people.  We’re far from perfect! That’s why we’re at church—to hear that we are forgiven!

How do I find out more about your teachings?
If you would like to read more about our beliefs and practices, check out the website of our church body, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), as well as UnderstandChristianity.com.

What’s WELS or Wisconsin Synod?
St.  Mark’s Lutheran Church is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).  The word “synod” (pronounced sin’ id) is a Greek word that means, “walking together.” The names contains Wisconsin because it was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1850.  WELS includes over 1,300 congregations worldwide, with a membership of about 400,000.  This church body unites us with Christians across our country and around the world.  It allows us to pool our resources for training church workers, doing mission work both at home and abroad, and producing published materials such as hymnals, Bible studies and other books.  Our congregation and Synod stand firmly on all the teachings of Scripture.  We believe that Jesus is our Savior and the only way to heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  Through faith in Jesus we are united to him and each other.  The name “Lutheran” comes from the great reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546).  In a period in history when the Church had lost sight of its Savior and the truth of his Word, Martin Luther boldly challenged these errors and preached Jesus Christ alone as Savior.  We are proud to remember his work in bringing to light the truth of God’s Word by using his name to identify ourselves.

A Final Thought
We pray that this has helped answer some of your questions and alleviate your fears.  Our mission as a congregation is quite simple.  We want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all people on the basis of the Holy Scriptures.  Everything we do is meant to accomplish that one goal.  We pray that there is nothing that stands in your way from learning more about your Savior at St.  Mark’s Lutheran Church.  Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or if there is anything we can do for you.  God’s richest blessings to you.  We look forward to meeting you!