They had a Real, Live Introit! How Church Should be When you are on Vacation – Christ Lutheran, Stevensville, MI, by Pr. Rossow

Pastor Quardokus preaching

We all know the feeling of liturgical dread. You are on the road. You aren’t sure about the local churches. You drive into the parking lot of a local parish wondering if you will be able to worship God according to known and rehearsed forms or if you will be subjected to the whims and tastes of the local overseer who has crafted his own unknown, unrehearsed form of worship based on his own tastes and preferences and a weird amalgam of non-Lutheran Methabapticostal forms and ethos.

Of course in this day and age of smart phones and the “intraweb,” it is much easier to find out ahead of time if a church is liturgical. One can also check the liturgical churches website.

Anyway, I had a chance to hook up with one of the pastors from my doctoral peer group this last weekend and was delighted by the liturgy at his parish. Rev. Philip Quardokus is Senior Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Stevensville, Michigan down in the southwestern corner of the state. It is clear from the liturgy and the preaching that Pastor Quardokus places an emphasis on being Scriptural and Lutheran when it comes to the Divine Service.

There were many highlights including the fact that they had a real live introit! “Introit” is a Latin Word for “entrance” or “travel” and was originally brought into the liturgy as a piece of psalmody to be played as the priest and the rest of the participants travelled into the chancel for the Divine Service. At Christ Lutheran the pastors and acolyte processed to the first step of the chancel during the opening hymn and then processed into the chancel during the Introit. Such high delight!

Other highlights of liturgy at Christ included the fact that most of the responsory parts were chanted by liturgist and congregation, the congregation sang really well, and the service included a reading from the Book of Concord. The Scripture readings were read by the assisting pastor but the reading from the Book of Concord was read by a layman. I’m no big fan of lay readers but I will take time out of any Divine Service to have a layman read to me from the Book of Concord.

Here was something really refreshing. There was not a single verbal instruction given during the entire service. I have been to several confessional parishes where the pastor thinks that he needs to interrupt the drama of the Divine Service with “we now turn to page so and so for such and such” or “the congregation will please rise,” so forth and so on. It is not necessary particularly if you have a printed order of service and even if you don’t, people will learn when to stand and sit and they know where to look for the hymns. The visitors are also able to read and follow others. They will be far more impressed with a room full of people who know their parts for the Divine Service without prompting than they will be put off because they had to follow what everyone else was doing a split second later.

The sermon was great. Quardokus is a bit more dramatic than average but that is who he is and because I knew that and because his sheep would know that, it was actually very natural, sincere and effective. He preached clear and scathing law and clear and salving Gospel. The sermon was textual and Christ-centered.

Only one person recognized us as visitors and greeted us but that does not bother me. I am the type of person that would rather not be bothered anyway. If I have a question or want to be identified as a visitor I will seek out the pastor or someone else if need be. Despite that, the mood of the narthex was very lively and personable. If I were checking this parish out as a visitor I would be impressed that the Divine Service was about God and his words of law and gospel for me and that the people really enjoyed each other and enjoyed being there.

The people were fairly young. That is probably because they have a Pre K – 8th grade day school. Good for them. When done right, Lutheran day schools are a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

I would not change a single thing at Christ Lutheran, well maybe a few things. It would be nice if the procession included a cross with Jesus hanging on it so that there is no mistaking that this time is devoted to hearing about the savior of the world. It would also be nice for the lector to let the people sing the Gospel response to him as the mouthpiece of Christ rather than he singing it with them.

They do have a contemporary service a couple times a month. Pastor Q assured me that it was mostly about the music and that the basic form of the liturgy was maintained. It was nice to see that there was no “praise pit” and not a trap set anywhere in sight.

It was very edifying to be convicted of my sin and convinced of my salvation via the liturgy and preaching at Christ Lutheran – Stevensville, Michigan. My prayer for your upcoming trips this summer is that the road rise to meet you and that you find liturgies with real, live, travelling introits.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


They had a Real, Live Introit! How Church Should be When you are on Vacation – Christ Lutheran, Stevensville, MI, by Pr. Rossow — 15 Comments

  1. Hi,

    Great article, only one error. The Senior Pastor at Christ Lutheran is Philip Quardokus. I know this because he is my Uncle, and Godfather.

    < << Fixed by moderator >>>

  2. We are on our way to Stevensville, MI tomorrow for the Quardokus/Harris wedding…yes, its a family affair…Pastor Quardokus is married to my sister….can not wait to see them all….however, a 4:00am start from Calgary, Alberta Canada is not going to be great fun…We have been to Divine Service at Christ several times and it is always refreshing to the soul…

  3. It is unfortunate that many LCMS pastors have become
    a master of ceremonies instead of a liturgist. Your experience
    in Michigan is not the norm any more. Pastors think it is cool
    to emcee the worship service and tell everyone what page
    they should be on. Our laity are intelligent enough to follow
    the worship service even the visitors. This supposedly folksy
    approach takes away from the dignity of the Divine Service.

  4. Sara,

    Sorry for the mistake. We fixed it. Just before writing this I talked to another pastor friend by the name of “Paul” and so I had “Paul” on the brain.

  5. Dave,

    I was never a noisy emcee but I used to do my share of interuppting the service. It was Cantor Magness who taught me that the service is a drama unfolding and just as we do not have a play by play commentary at the theatre, so too we do not need it in the Divine Service.

  6. I, too, went to a fantastic church this weekend. Grace Lutheran in San Diego. Outstanding service with a congregation that definitely showed respect and reverence for Word, Sacrament, Liturgy, etc. One of the best services I’ve been to in my 40 (ugh) years. Too bad I’m not closer.

    Also too bad more and more LCMS churches are abandoning the liturgy for “make it up as you go” and rejecting sanctuaries for multi-purpose “worship centers”

  7. Hey, that’s my congregation! Thank you for your comments Pastor Rossow. If you had brought your cat, I might have recognized you. Please, come again.

  8. Dave Likeness :
    It is unfortunate that many LCMS pastors have become
    a master of ceremonies instead of a liturgist. Your experience
    in Michigan is not the norm any more. Pastors think it is cool
    to emcee the worship service and tell everyone what page
    they should be on. Our laity are intelligent enough to follow
    the worship service even the visitors. This supposedly folksy
    approach takes away from the dignity of the Divine Service.

    This is interest to reflect on in my own experience in a rural WELS congregation where the large portion of the congregation do NOT come from orthodox Lutheran backgrounds. I never thought of the pastor as a emcee by announcing the next hymn or the page number for the Apostle’s Creed. Perhaps there is too much attention given to “leading” the congregation when have plenty of hints in the song board listing, hymnal and in the bulletin as to the order of service. I just never considered it an attempt to emcee.

    Thanks for the thought provocation on the subject.

  9. Here’s the big question of the day: As confessionalists, we know where our synod needs to be. Some churches (like this one) are exemplary models of what we can be. Others are on the far side of the spectrum. But for those of us stuck somewhere in the middle (a majority of the LCMS?), how can we act to influence our congregations in this direction? How can we bring people along without violently shoving them through the dark periods of Cartesian Doubt that many of us have had to endure in order to arrive at our confessional convictions? What is the gentle and grace-filled way to rouse the “sleeping giant” from its “dogmatic slumber?”

  10. As a returning Lutheran (away for way too long) I expected to come back to the liturgy I left. What a surprise! Instead of “In the Name of The Father…” I got “Welcome to so and so Lutheran Church. For our worship this morning, please refer to your insert, then go back to page 203, then back to your insert…..” My head was on a swivel, I could not concentrate, I could not pray. Kids were running up and down the aisles, people were coming in quite late (after the Confession) and others were loudly writing checks and ripping them out of their checkbooks. Then, in the middle of it all, “Announcements!” Another distraction. And, “Don’t forget to sign the sheet that is being passed around” (during service). What happened to my beloved Liturgy, the form of which took me to God and kept me there for an hour. I don’t want to talk about Communion. The only times that I felt I was truly being offered the Body and Blood were those quiet Wednesday nights during Lent, when apparently there was enough time to kneel at the Rail, and we didn’t have to listen to praise songs accompanied by the guitar.
    I don’t want to sound like an old meanie, unwilling to change, but what example are we setting for our young people if we just change things on a whim or somebody’s idea. Easter’s service was completely out of the insert and hardly reccognizable. If I wanted to go to an emergent church I certainly would not have chosen the LCMS! I have not been back since Easter, have been reading my Bible, praying a lot and reading everything I can find. Heavenly Father, Restore Your Church! In Jesus Name I pray…..

  11. @Rev. Paul Rydecki #2

    I spent a significant amount of my life’s time in southwestern MI – and, I’ve met Quardokus. My brother attends Christ Lutheran, in Stevensville. Somehow, I never recall Andy raving about Quardokus’ sermons. It probably was that I was never listening, or, that he just takes for granted all the good sermons……..

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