FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Thank you for taking the time to visit our FAQ's page! We hope the information provided below gives you a better understanding of what you can expect at our church and within our congregation. If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please don't hesitate to call our church office at 262-785-9420. Thanks again, and enjoy your "visit" with us!

For your quick reference, here are the questions that are answered on this page. The answers are below.

  * I’ve never been to Cross of Life. Where do I go once I walk in?
  * Is there something I need to “do” if I’m a visitor?
  * How should I dress when I come for service?
  * I’m worried about “fitting in.” What types of people go to Cross of Life?
  * Are children welcome in services?
  * When is Sunday School? And do we have to be members for our kids to attend?
  * What offerings are available for older kids?
  * What kind of music can I expect to hear?
  * How is communion handled at your church?
  * Sometimes it’s hard to find a parking spot. Will that ever be a problem?
  * If I'd like to give an offering, how do I do that?
  * Where does the money go that we put into the plate?
  * Do I need to have a church background in order to understand the sermons?
  * If I miss a service, can I access the sermon online?
  * Do you have a guiding principle?
  * What exactly is a “member” and if I want to become one, what should I do?
  * Who leads the congregation and how are decisions made?
  * What does your church believe about the Bible?
  * What does your church believe about baptism and
  * I'm looking to go deeper into my faith. How can you help me do that?
  * Am I needed


I’ve never been to Cross of Life. Where do I go once I walk in?
You don’t have to be nervous about joining us! Inside our doors are some of the warmest, most welcoming people you’ll meet, and the layout of our building is equally accommodating! There will always be someone to greet you and hand you a bulletin, which will guide you easily through our services. Once you enter through the main entrance (under the blue peak) you will walk into the Narthex (a fancy name for a church lobby.) It’s just outside our Sanctuary, which will be on your right and is where we gather to worship.

To the left of the Narthex is our Fellowship Hall, where you can help yourself to a cup of coffee, mingle with others or relax before and after services, or check out upcoming events on our bulletin boards. The Fellowship Hall is also where we gather for many of our larger celebrations (which all seem to involve the consumption of cake!). Behind a walled partition is our North Fellowship Hall, a smaller room that often hosts our Adult Forums on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. between services.

Beyond the Fellowship Hall is a fireplace gathering area, large kitchen, restrooms, staff offices, and the hallway that leads to our Sunday School Classrooms and staffed Nursery. Simply "turn right at the rainbow” (the mural on our wall) and you can’t miss them! On our second floor you will find more Sunday School Classrooms, our Senior High Room, and more rooms that host our Bible Studies and other educational gatherings.

Is there something I need to “do” if I’m a visitor?
There’s nothing you have to “do” other than walk in, make yourself comfortable, and enjoy the experience. You won’t be put on the spot to identify yourself or answer any questions. In fact, because we have three different worship times and many of our members attend different services, others might not know you’re “new” – they might simply assume you attend another service time. That’s exactly why we’d love it if you let us know you’re visiting! We can answer your questions, show you around if you’d like, and at least lead you to the coffee (especially if it’s before our early service!).

How should I dress when I come for service?

This is truly up to you, and outside of wearing what a high school principal would consider inappropriate, you really can’t go wrong. You’ll see people here wearing everything from jeans and shorts and t-shirts to business suits and dresses – and all styles in between. There is no dress code at Cross of Life, so we encourage you to wear what makes you feel comfortable. (Burlap robes optional.)

I’m worried about “fitting in.” What types of people go to Cross of Life?
There is no “cookie cutter” person at Cross of Life, nor do we want there to be. We invite everyone from all walks of life to walk through our doors … and walk with us as part of this faith family. While a large percentage of our members and visitors do come from Brookfield, Wis. (since that’s where we’re located), many members come from a variety of other areas, such as Wauwatosa, New Berlin, Delafield, Hartland, West Bend and Milwaukee. We are also fortunate to be joined by members of our partner churches in Milwaukee as well.

Beyond that, we simply invite you to come and see for yourself! Each person is unique and an in-person visit will give you the best sense of whether Cross of Life is a fit for you.

Are children welcome in services?

We celebrate kids at Cross of Life and put a lot of thought and energy into making it a positive experience for kids to be at church. We begin each service with the Children’s Message, where kids are invited to the front of the church to gather around a Pastor, who will relay the bible story in kid-speak. It’s a fun, informal time where kids are engaged in learning and often come up with some “poignant” insights on their own! (Here’s a tip for our newcomers: the answer to most questions is usually “Jesus.”) Afterwards, little ones can sit with their parents during service (Activity Bags are hanging in the Narthex if you’d like) or they can play in our Nursery, which is available at no cost and is staffed with a paid caregiver. (Our beloved “Miss Gail” offers a familiar face and consistent care for infants and toddlers.) School-age kids age 3 through grade 3) head off to Sunday School following the Children's Message.

When is Sunday School? And do we have to be members for our kids to attend?
First let us stress that all children are welcome in our Sunday School! A child does not have to be a member to attend, which means that all visiting kids (including friends of kids who may be members) are invited to come at any time! (Did your child have a friend sleep over and you’re not sure if you can bring them? Well, now you know. Bring ‘em! Sunday School at Cross of Life is definitely “Friends Friendly!”)

If you ever have any questions related to Sunday School, please don't hesitate to contact Jo Ann Tomm, Director of Christian Education (pictured at left), at joann@crossoflife.org.

Sunday School Classes are held:

Saturday Evening:
4:00 p.m.: Grades 4-5-6
5:00 p.m. (Worship Hour): Preschool, Kindergarten, Grades 1-2-3

Sunday Morning:
8:30 a.m. (Worship Hour): Preschool, Kindergarten, Grades 1-2-3
9:30 a.m.: Grades 4-5-6, Confirmation Grades 7-8, Senior High
10:45 a.m. (Worship Hour): Preschool, Kindergarten, Grades 1-2-3

If your child is enrolled in Sunday School and you have a conflict during your regular time, you can join another time!

What offerings are available for older kids?

Kids in Grades 7-8 are invited to join us for Fusion, held Sundays at 9:30 a.m. in Rooms 208 and 209. While attendance is not required as part of our Confirmation curriculum, participation is strongly encouraged as we feel it gives these students one more way to connect with God and with their faith community – relationships that are essential to strong spiritual development. Regular Confirmation Classes are held Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. during the programming year (September-May). Click here for more information.

For Senior High Youth (Grades 9-12), we offer the Senior High Café.
Here, young adults can lounge on comfy couches in our Senior High room (located upstairs) and talk about topics of the day. Conversations are led by adults and some of our youth members, and topics can range anywhere from marriage (perhaps with a visit from one of our Older, Wiser Lutheran couples who have been married 50+ years) to discussions about the weekly Scripture readings and how they relate to us today. Participants can sit back and listen or share their insights – whatever suits their style. Click here to check out our Senior High program for yourself!

What kind of music can I expect to hear?

We avoid labeling our worship music as “traditional” or “contemporary” because we realize those terms mean different things to different people. Instead, our mantra is “good music is good music” – whether it’s a hymn sung along to the organ or piano, or to guitars, trumpets or strings. We encourage others to share their gifts of music in worship, so you will be treated to a wide variety of music sung and played by a variety of people – from preschoolers in “A Joyful Noise” Choir to adult members in Senior Choir and all ages in between, to adult and youth Handbell Choirs and our “guest” performers of all ability levels who sing or play during Offerings.

We place great importance on music at Cross of Life, and whether it’s soaring or sentimental, sung by one or many, a moving tribute or a “joyful noise,” we’re sure it will enhance your worship experience. If you're interested in becoming involved in our music program, click here to read more about our offerings or contact Director of Music Ministry Christine Standley at chris@crossoflife.org.

How is communion handled at your church?
We realize this is often the part of service that provokes the most questions in terms of “how it’s done,” so we work to make this a comfortable experience for you.

Most importantly, we want to stress that all are welcome and invited to share in Christ’s meal of forgiveness and healing. Communion is served at all weekend services.

We provide three communion “stations:” two at the front of the church and one in the back (in the Narthex). Ushers will guide you where to go. At the front, you will take communion either in a “continuous” (moving line) fashion or together around the altar. If it’s together, once everyone in your group has received the bread and wine, a blessing will be given and you will return to your seat via the side aisles. (Instructions will always be given as to whether communion will be continuous or taken together.) Our back station always uses a continuous line and involves no stairs for maximal accessibility.

When receiving communion you may choose wine (which is red) or white grape juice. If you would like a gluten-free wafer instead of bread, simply ask for one at your station. 

Sometimes it’s hard to find a parking spot. Will that ever be a problem?

While our parking lot isn’t as big as we’d like (with about 130 spaces, we’re “landlocked” between a neighborhood and North Avenue), you should never let parking be the reason you don’t come to worship. On the outside chance that no parking spots are available (which, if you think about it, is a blessing for a church to have!), there is additional parking located just west of our property in the adjoining subdivision.

If I'd like to give an offering, how do I do that?

There is a time during service where Ushers will come down the aisles and pass “plates” through the pews. You may choose to put in an offering (any amount is appropriate) and pass the plate along. However, if you choose not to, please do not feel embarrassed! Many of our members mail or electronically transer their offerings and simply pass the plate when it comes to them, so you will not be alone regardless of what you choose to do. The time for “Offering” follows the “Announcements” portion of our service and is listed in our easy-to-follow bulletins.

Where does the money go that we put into the plate?

This is probably best answered if you read our Annual Report. It will give you the most detailed description of our finances. A short answer is that we attempt to use each dollar given to us in the most efficient way to further spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our highest priority is to share with people and needs beyond our walls. Our long-term goal is to do this at double the average found in ELCA congregations, and at least double the amount we spend on debt service. We attempt to compensate our staff as supportively as we can without exceeding averages in similarly-sized congregations. We attempt to do as much as possible of our maintenance, teaching, and partner support with member volunteers.

To us, every dollar given here is an act of stewardship by the person who gives it, and we do our best to enhance that stewardship in how we spend it. 

Do I need to have a church background in order to understand the sermons?
Not at all. If there’s one thing our pastors at Cross of Life are especially good at, it’s making the bible passages understandable and relatable! After all, what good is hearing a sermon if you don’t understand it? And what good is understanding a message if you can’t relate to it – and apply it to your own life? Many of our members come from different denominational backgrounds and they all say the same thing: what they appreciate about our sermons is that our pastors don’t talk “above them.” Instead, our pastors are very effective at sharing the Good News in a way that both informs and inspires.

If I miss a service, can I access the sermon online?
Absolutely! Simply click here to be taken directly to our Sermon page (located under "Worship" / "Weekend Worship.") Here you will find each week’s Gospel message and our most recent sermons, going all the way back to January 2012. We invite you to listen and to get a feel for our style, then join us in person for the full worship experience! 

Do you have a guiding principle?

We do! At Cross of Life, our Mission Statement is this: “Through the Holy Spirit, we are inspired by the Good News of Jesus Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves, reaching out to the world as we Worship, Learn, Serve and Invite in His name.”

In fact, when you walk in our main entrance, you’ll see the essence of what we do – Worship, Learn, Serve, Invite – painted on our Narthex wall. But those principles are not only on our wall, they are carried out within our walls … and far beyond.

What exactly is a “member” and if I want to become one, what should I do?

Members are those who have expressed a desire to join Cross of Life and who attend our New Member Gatherings. Over the course of three fun, informal “classes” we discuss Christian and Lutheran beliefs and the ministries of Cross of Life, and we introduce you to the staff and elected leadership of our congregation. Childcare is provided and no signup is necessary. New Member Gatherings are held in the Spring and Fall, so click here to see when the next classes are scheduled.

If you have any questions, we encourage you to contact Invite Committee Chairperson Elizabeth Klick 
at nomadklick@msn.com or 262-439-9735 or Debbie Riederer at debbie@crossoflife.org or 262-785-9420.

Who leads the congregation and how are decisions made?
Our congregation is led by our Church Council – a group of elected members who give their time to help shape goals for the future, attend to matters at hand, and help lead the ten Ministry Committees that serve and energize our congregation. The President, Vice President, and Youth Representatives serve for one-year terms, renewable once. All Ministry Committee chairpersons serve for two-year terms, renewable once. To see our current list of Ministry Committees and chairpersons, click here.

Our Annual Congregational Meetings, which are typically held at the end of February each year, provide the opportunity to vote on issues that require congregational approval, present administrative and financial reports, discuss budgets, and make necessary elections.

What does your church believe about the Bible?

Cross of Life is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), whose faith is built around a strong belief in God as made known to us in Jesus Christ. As Lutherans, ELCA members believe that the Bible is the written Word of God. It creates and nurtures faith through the work of the Holy Spirit and points us to Jesus Christ, the living Word and center of our faith. In reading the Bible, we are invited into a relationship with God that both challenges us and promises us new life. For more information about Lutheran beliefs and traditions, we invite you to visit the ELCA website at www.elca.org.

What does your church believe about baptism and communion?
Lutherans believe these are “sacraments,” or sacred actions Jesus asked us to observe in which God’s love is made real to us through physical elements. In baptism, the physical element is water. It is gently poured over the head of a person of any age as the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” are spoken. The water and words signify what God does in that moment: welcome the baptized person into the worldwide community of Christ with the free offer of forgiveness and reconciliation then and always.

We baptize at any age because we trust that baptism is God’s approach towards us more than it is our choice of God. In the case of infant or child baptism, parents, sponsors (godparents) and the congregation promise to raise and guide the child in faith. When those baptized as infants and children reach their early teens, we encourage them in study, prayer and service of others through our Confirmation program. At the end of that program, they affirm the promises made for them at baptism. To learn more about our Confirmation program click here.  

In communion the physical elements are bread and wine. We believe that Jesus is truly present in those elements as well as in and between the people who come to the meal. Somehow, this meal connects us to believers in every time and place. The phrase “Body of Christ” has a double meaning as a result. It is both the meal and the people who receive it. This is something we take as a matter of faith rather than proof, and trying to over-explain it ends up diminishing the way in which the meal feeds us at different times in our lives.

The most important thing is to know you are invited and welcome to commune at Cross of Life. Children in our Sunday School typically go through First Communion instruction in Grade 3.

To learn more about our First Communion classes click here. Feel free to talk to either of our pastors if you have questions about baptism or communion. 


I'm looking to go deeper into my faith. How can you help me do that?

Cross of Life offers a number of opportunities for you to deepen your faith. In addition to attending Worship – which we feel is at the very heart of fostering a fundamental level of faith – we offer a variety of educational opportunities as well. Our Adult Bible Studies – whose topics range from books of the Bible to significant time periods to important religious figures – are designed to help you reflect and to learn about who we are as Christians today. Our Adult Forums explore contemporary issues that affect us in a wide variety of ways – whether we’re spouses, caregivers of elderly parents, or parents of teenagers. Through education we deepen our understanding of the world and our role within it, and attending one or all of our sessions is a great way to grow in your relationship with God and one another.

See what’s being offered in 
Bible Studies by clicking here and in Adults Forums by clicking here.

We also offer a wide variety of Servanthood opportunities that allow you to practice your faith by applying yourself to the needs of others in very practical ways. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” We deeply believe that by serving others you not only serve God, you serve yourself. Take a moment to view our Servanthood Opportunities by clicking here.

Am I needed? 
We can answer that with a resounding YES! Cross of Life is a healthy and vibrant place to be because of the people who join us to Worship, Learn, Serve and Invite … and we are always looking for help in ALL of those areas! Did you know that each Worship service alone requires 14 volunteers? From Greeters and Readers to Ushers, Communion Assistants and Sound Technicians, there are a host (no communion pun intended) of roles you can fill. So that we continue to Learn, we are always in need of Sunday School Teachers, Confirmation Small Group Leaders and adults to speak at our Adult Forums (informal educational gatherings). Providing the opportunity to Serve is a large part of our focus at Cross of Life, and many hands are needed to serve our many partners – here in our community and around the globe. Finally, if you have felt invited yourself, we invite you … to Invite others! Our Invite Committee is always looking for ways to make COL even more welcoming than it already is, so your ideas are greatly appreciated! So … does that answer your question? Yes, you are needed!

To get a feel for what you can expect during a visit to Cross of Life, please visit our "What to Expect" page.

To further deepen your understanding of Cross of Life, we encourage you to browse our website to get a more complete sense of all we have to offer.

That said, while we strive to keep our website as up-to-date as possible, we encourage you 
view our MOST RECENT NEWSLETTER for the latest and greatest Cross of Life news!

We also invite you to start watching our website in the near future for videos that will dive deeper into a wide variety of religious and spiritual topics.

Do you have any further questions after reading this list of FAQ’s? Don’t hesitate to call our church office at 262-785-9420. We’d love to hear from you!