Frequently Asked Questions

The worship staff receives a number of similar inquires on worship-related topics from across the church.

The responses you find here should not be considered the final word on the topic, but rather as useful guides to be considered with sensitivity to the local context. Many of the responses link to other Frequently Asked Questions that may be useful as you dig deeper into a particular response.

A resource section appears at the end of each response providing a bibliography of resources consulted in answering the question and which may be helpful to the reader in their own further research as well. Links are provided as locations to find these works, but are not meant as an endorsement of any vendors.

Any of these responses may be reproduced for local use as long as the appropriate acknowledgement, including the Web address, is cited on each copy.

If you would like additional information or do not find the question that you are seeking an answer to, we invite you to contact the worship staff at worship@elca.org.



Frequently Asked Question Topics



Church Year/Observances
Do we celebrate Youth Sunday?
How can we celebrate congregational anniversaries within worship?
How do congregations recognize secular occasions and holidays in the liturgy?
What are Rogation Days?
What is a Commemoration and how to we celebrate them?
What is a lesser festival? When and how do we celebrate them?
Why and how do we use ashes on Ash Wednesday?

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Ecumenical and Inter-Faith
Do Christians hold Seder meals?
Do Lutherans re-baptize former Mormons who are joining a congregation?
How do we worship and pray with other Christians and non-Christians?
What does Full Communion mean for Lutheran worship?

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Holy Communion
At what age do congregation members receive communion?
How can we provide for communion of the ill, homebound and imprisoned?
How do we distribute Holy Communion?
What kinds of bread are used in Holy Communion?
What kinds of wine are used for Holy Communion?
Where do we keep sacramental elements?
Why and how do we move to weekly communion?

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Life Passages
Can a civil marriage be blessed in church?
How can the centrality of baptism be renewed?
How do Lutherans regard organ donation and cremation?
How do rites of social and fraternal societies relate to Lutheran funeral practice?
What are baptismal festivals?
What are columbaria and memorial gardens?
What are the marks of a Christian funeral?
What are the practices for remembering and affirming baptism?

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Liturgy
How are worship resources prepared and approved by the ELCA?
How is language used in worship?
How is oil used in worship?
How is worship traditional? How is worship contemporary?
Is applause appropriate in worship?
What are the biblical roots of worship?
What are vestments and paraments and why are they used?
What is a sacrament for Lutherans?
What is the Exchange of Peace?
What is the pattern of worship?
What is the role of silence in worship?
Why and how do we use incense in worship?
Why do Lutherans make the sign of the cross?
Why don’t we use alleluias during Lent?
Why worship on Sunday?

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Music
Can technology help lead congregational singing?
Did Martin Luther really use tavern tunes in church?
How can I create simple liturgical music for free?
How do we choose a new organ?
How do we expand our congregation’s hymn repertoire?
How do we introduce new music to our congregation?
How do we select hymns and songs for all seasons?
How does a congregation find and hire-call a musician(s)?
What can we do if we don’t have an organist?
What is an appropriate hymn tempo?
What is Church Music Sunday?
What is Taizé worship and how can it be used?
What is the role of music in the Lutheran liturgy?
What is the role of the choir in worship?
What music is appropriate for Lutheran weddings?
Why and how do we sing the Psalms?


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Participation/Leadership
How can lay people participate in worship leadership?
How do we involve children and youth in worship?
How do we lead liturgy with grace and confidence?
How do we use the body in worship?
How does worship involve all our senses?
Who is a presiding minister?

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Worship Planning
How and when might congregations conduct surveys about worship styles and practices?
Should we offer more than one worship service?
What is a Worship Committee?
When do we make announcements in worship?
Where does the list of readings for our Sunday worship come from?

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Worship Space
Are flags appropriate in church?
How can our worship services be more welcoming to people with disabilities?
How can we make our worship space accessible?
How do we make decisions about art and materials used in worship?
How do we use a Paschal Candle?
What are some considerations on art and environment for worship?
What is a sanctuary lamp?
What is the Advent Wreath and how is it used in worship?
What is the meaning and use of liturgical colors?

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