A Pentecostal woman comes into a Lutheran Church and sits behind a pair of ladies just as the service begins.  She follows along as best she can, standing up and sitting down with the rest of the congregation as instructed by the pastor, increasingly frustrated by the rigid liturgy.  Eventually, exasperated, she taps one of the two ladies on the shoulder and asks “When do you people praise Jesus?!!”  The lady she tapped says “Oh, we don’t do that here,” to which her friend replies “Sure we do….it’s on page 14.”

This quiet, programmatic purposefulness which Garrison Keillor made a career of lampooning in his “Prairie Home Companion” radio show is accurate enough, though we are much friendlier and less loopy than the people he describes.  How you see experience us may depend on what you’re used to:

  • If you come from a Roman Catholic or Episcopalian/Anglican tradition, you will find yourself saying “these people stole our liturgy,” which is true so far as it goes.  You should be able to navigate the service without opening the hymnal, except for the actual hymns.
  • If you come from a charismatic worship style, you may feel out of place (but if you’re charismatic, you also won’t care).  We don’t tend to lift up our hands to the Lord except at specified times in the service.  But we are a genuinely friendly group of people who all greet each other during the Passing of the Peace, and our Chicago Folk Service is less High Church than the regular liturgy.
  • If you are Methodist, Presbyterian, Mennonite or Quaker, our liturgies are different but the tone and atmosphere is probably the same as what you’re used to.
  • If you are Baptist or Southern Baptist, you’ll notice that our sermons tend to be shorter and tend to drill on one topic (usually from the Gospel or one of the Lessons) instead of skipping around and tying disparate threads together.  Musically, we are pretty strong.
  • If you’re Jewish, you’ll find us anthropologically fascinating but may get something out of the experience.  Our faith springs from the tradition of the Torah, and remains firmly anchored there despite all of the Jesusy stuff you may consider distracting.
    If you are Agnostic/Atheist/Searching/Angry at God, you are our target audience, whether or not we all always act that way.  If you’ve had a bad experience with church before, please try our fellowship.  If we fail to greet and engage you, we will have dropped the ball.

Zion has two main liturgies:

1) the Lutheran Book of Worship (“LBW”) green book, settings I and II, supplemented with hymns from the bolted-on With One Voice (“WOV”) blue book of forgotten favorite hymns. We basically ripped off our entire liturgical structure from the Catholics (Luther started as a Catholic priest and preserved its service structure in Lutheran services) so Catholics usually have an easy time participating. And;

2) The piano-and-guitar-based Chicago Folk Service, which is light and “folk”-y (i.e. no whanging electric guitars), with more liturgical structure than a praise service. It is actually a legitimate Lutheran service, based on the old red Service Book and Hymnal. It is done in a call-and-response style, with a leader singing and the congregation singing something back. Even people who hate folk services find themselves disliking it less than they first expected. And we are always looking for more musicians to help us lead.