Sometimes, just the thought of church is painful—words repeated without meaning, everyone acting like their lives are perfect, feeling judged, or just being bored. What if there were a place you could worship and ask questions without feeling like you had to hide your real self?
That place is here, at St. Andrew - Waunakee. You don't have to hide anything here because God already knows you. He knows that you have problems, inside and out, and He offers you free of any cost the solution to those problems: His Son Jesus. Do you know where your problems come from? Do you know what Jesus did to take care of them? God wants you to know that. He wants you to know HIM.
At St. Andrew – Waunakee, we gather on Sunday mornings to connect with God and with each other. It’s come as you are, because God doesn’t care what you’re wearing or whether you need just a little more caffeine.
Worship Sundays at 10:30 AM
Casual About Church, Serious About God
St. Andrew - Waunakee
5757 Emerald Grove Lane
Waunakee, WI 53597
Phone: (608) 831-8540
Contact Via Email
The sponsoring church admits to being WELS on its home page. The pastor has an M.T. degree from the Sausage Factory. That seems appropriate - M.T. - no such degree, but certainly empty.
No need to dress up for some Wisconsin churches
Sun. October 19, 2008; Posted: 02:49 AM
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WAUNAKEE, Oct 19, 2008 (The Wisconsin State Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- BKS | Quote | Chart | News | PowerRating --
A couple of months ago, St. Andrew Lutheran Church wanted to do something different to attract parishioners, especially those put off by the rituals and trappings of traditional churches.
So it ripped up its pews and filled the sanctuary with an eclectic mix of earth-tone love seats, sleek armchairs and coffeehouse tables.
The communion rail came down, and the pulpit went out the door, replaced by a stone-slab table with a base made from a neighbor's fallen tree. The newly added cappuccino machine and coffee grinder look just like the ones at Kwik Trip -- indeed, they were donated by Kwik Trip.
"There are plenty of churches in Waunakee and plenty of Christians who already have churches in Waunakee. We wanted to target the people who aren't churched," said Kristen Koepsell, worship director.
This relaxed approach, in which God doesn't care about your posture or your caffeine addiction, has taken hold in numerous churches, although St. Andrew may be taking it to a new level. Many churches now offer at least one service with a looser, more conversational format, often involving a live band.
"There's a trend toward people being more interested in approaching the spiritual and sacred on their own terms," said Robert Glenn Howard, a UW-Madison associate professor in communication arts and religious studies.
This suggests a de-emphasis on the institutional components of religion, including the formal setting itself, Howard said. The Internet is fueling part of this change. People expect their voices to be heard -- they're used to contributing to online forums -- so there's a shift away from a top-down, centralized approach, he said.
"It's all part of the idea that the most important thing is for the individual to connect with the divine, and it doesn't really matter if you do that with a 19th-century hymn or a rock 'n' roll song," Howard said.
The Waunakee church, 5757 Emerald Grove Lane, was built in 1990 as Lord and Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church. But the congregation never really took off. "We weren't reaching out into the community very well," said Dick Bernards, a former president.
So two years ago, St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Middleton took over the church's assets and began operating it as a satellite location with the same name.
St. Andrew is now considered one congregation with two buildings. This gave church leaders the opportunity to try something different in Waunakee without risking a lot, said the Rev. Randy Hunter, who serves both churches.
"It's not intended to be disrespectful of anyone's desire to worship in a more formal setting, but we know that for many people, that's just not their thing," he said.
The Middleton location continues to hold a traditional worship service, while the Waunakee site experiments with a laid-back structure.
Hunter's sermon is videotaped at an early Sunday service in Middleton, then broadcast on large screens later in the morning at Waunakee. After the sermon concludes, Waunakee parishioners talk about it in small groups, then a layperson brings them back together for a brief discussion.
The congregation's motto is "Casual about church, serious about God." Communion is still offered every week.
"The message is the same, it's just repackaged in a way that may be a little more inviting for some people," Hunter said.
Gene Berg, a founding member of Lord and Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church, said he likes a traditional worship service but is giving the casual approach a try. He appreciates that prayers and religious readings are still part of the Waunakee service.
"I'm getting there. I'm warming up to it," he said.
St. Andrew spent about $40,000 on the remodeling, including the services of a professional design consultant. Many parishioners pitched in, including Sarah Homan, who helped select the contemporary furniture by visiting local coffeehouses and Barnes & Noble.
Inspiration for the stone table with the tree-trunk base came from a desire to replicate the simplicity of ancient worship services, Homan said. "We really went back to the Bible, to books from Genesis to Revelation that talk about wood and stone altars," she said.
In many ways, the changes are a return to basics -- the opposite of a modern approach, Hunter said. "It's keeping it real. You can't hide behind a pulpit or a robe."
The Waunakee sanctuary seats 65 and so far has been averaging about 50 people each Sunday, including some unfamiliar faces.
"Personally, I'll gauge our success by how many new people come through the door who haven't been going to a church," Hunter said. "If it becomes a place where current members just want to hang out because it's cool, then I don't think we will have succeeded."
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GJ - The spirit of mockery is thriving in this corner of the Wisconsin sect. Doubtless the District Pope is busy disciplining anyone who...criticizes the caffeine congregation. The essence of Deformed theology is using a hook or gimmick to attract people to the Gospel - adulterating the message of the cross. What better way than to have a cross resting in a cup of coffee as the official logo?
Some people were offended at the government sponsored "art" called Piss Christ. That photo showed a tradition cross or crucifix in a glass of urine. As gross and stupid as that was, the faux-art was nothing compared to this faux-Gospel sponsored by WELS.
The message is - Means of Grace worship is boring, painful, meaningless. All the Church-and-Change congregations have the same rant in their ads, even former ones like CrossRoads in South Lyons, Michigan. Look at the words again, copied below:
"Sometimes, just the thought of church is painful—words repeated without meaning, everyone acting like their (sic) lives are perfect, feeling judged, or just being bored. What if there were a place you could worship and ask questions without feeling like you had to hide your real self?"
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "This Doufus ELCA Congregation...No - Wait. WELS!?":
This article made me cry and I am in pain after having read it. There should be public outrage and outcry from both laity and clergy. I cannot believe that President Schroeder and the Conference of Presidents puts a stamp of approval on this. I am not able to place offerings in my envelope directed to synod with a clear conscience.
May God help us all.
Perhaps I stand alone; this is not the WELS I was instructed and confirmed in. How can we, the laity, and the pastors I used to look up to just stand by and watch this?
I am needing to step away and not just look away.