What role or place should businesses have in our churches? I am referring specifically to the prominent place Thrivent seems to have in our church's activities (many funded in part by Thrivent action grants). This seems problematic on many levels. I am wondering if the WELS leadership has studied this practice which is common in many WELS churches. Pastors of WELS churches with whom I have spoken have expressed differing opinions about this issue, and there does not seem to be a consensus or any study they can point me to when I voice my concerns.
About four years, changes in Thrivent’s policies resulted in WELS issuing a statement. Here are excerpts from that statement.
“Late last year , it was learned that Thrivent had permitted its members to direct their Choice dollars to Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of abortion services in the nation. Many conservative and confessional Lutherans expressed their dismay and even outrage that a self-described ‘faith-based’ organization would allow people to direct their funding to an abortion provider. Thrivent’s response to those concerns came in the form of a new ‘neutrality’ policy, in which it stated that it would no longer permit Choice dollars to be directed to any organization whose primary purpose was to advocate for or to oppose controversial social issues such as abortion, sexual orientation, or guns. While organizations providing abortion services were no longer eligible, funding was also cut off from organizations dedicated to protecting the unborn and promoting the biblical teaching of marriage and sexuality. By adopting this policy, which Thrivent had every right to do, it clearly took the position that it is an organization that is not willing to take the correct stand on issues that we recognize to be clearly decided by the Word of God.
“After thorough consideration, we have concluded that, on a synodical level, to do nothing or say nothing would be a failure to make a faithful confession.
“For that reason, our synod’s relationship with Thrivent, small and informal as it has been, has come to an end. As a result, regular meetings will no longer take place, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod will neither seek nor accept any funding from Thrivent.
“This decision of the synod should not be understood to bind the consciences and decisions of congregations, organizations, or individuals. Individual members of Thrivent will need to make their own decisions regarding their use of Thrivent’s financial services, evaluating it with the same standards that they use to evaluate and patronize any other financial services company. Members will need to make their own decision as to whether or not they continue to direct their Choice dollars to organizations. Congregations, schools, and organizations, while not compelled to refuse Choice dollars, are encouraged to consider carefully whether or not the Thrivent name should be publicly promoted in congregational or organizational literature.”