The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Bring in the noise

It's considered golden at this California church

There's a reverent silence most Lutherans recognize during Sunday worship. It's a silence that's conspicuously missing in the sanctuary of Trinity Lutheran Church in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Instead, the sounds of children running, talking and laughing fill the air — yet no one seems to mind.

At Trinity Lutheran Church, Manhattan
At Trinity Lutheran Church, Manhattan Beach, Calif., children begin worship with "wet crosses" — for themselves and adults.
In fact, some of that noise is intentional. It's part of a plan that arrived four years ago after Luther Martell was called to the congregation, which had been gradually shrinking. Martell believed the needs of the immediate community required tailored care.

"We noticed there were a lot of families with young children who had incredibly busy calendars," Martell said. "The way church is set up, there's Sunday school, choir practice, fellowship—until the Sunday commitment is four or five hours. The reality is we're not going to get the people in this community for that amount of time. So we started by asking, 'How can we get them here for an hour?' And we redesigned everything."

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