Concern for church

I have seen false teachings being preached and growing in the WELS. This not in the official doctrines or on WELS website but online. This is from pastors, leaders, and laymen. I think some have gotten away from the Lutheran Confessions and allowed growing ministries in WELS and outside WELS be the leaders in our thinking. This is not a hell fire law judgement but an observation from a concerned member. I personally dislike confrontation so keep silent, but there are issues and I am not alone in this concern. The biggest concerns are role of men and women, church worship enthusiasm, piety, communion, ministry gender roles, and growth without losing truth in purity. What can be done to stay strong to the Confessions as being correct interpretation of Scripture, yet not being swayed by culture, because I think we are?

If you identify concerns and (potential) problems but keep silent, it is likely the status quo will continue: you will have a level of concern that could include frustration, and ministries will not receive appropriate feedback.

I understand that a dislike for confrontation can prevent you from speaking up, so I would encourage you to look upon such conversations with others in a less confrontational way. Here is what I mean. Accusatory statements and the phrasing of certain questions can put people on the defensive. How we engage others in conversation can lead to calm, productive dialogues.

It is important and necessary for you and your fellow Christians to speak up when there are questions and concerns about the public ministry of a called worker. That is a practical implication of having a Berean attitude (Acts 17:11). “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) describes the way in which these conversations are to take place. There is love for the messenger of God’s word, and there is love for the word of God. That word “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Some of Martin Luther’s words are appropriate at this point. “To recognize and judge doctrine behooves each and every Christian, so much so that he is accursed who infringes upon this right by as little as a hairsbreadth. For Christ Himself has established this right by various and unassailable statements, such as Matt. 6:15: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing.’ He is certainly speaking this word to the people in opposition to those who teach, and He commands them to avoid false teachings. But how can they avoid them if they do not recognize them? And how can they recognize them if they do not have the right to judge them? But now He gives them not only the right but also the command to judge…

“Once the right to judge doctrine is taken away from the hearers, what can or may a teacher not dare though (if that were possible) he were worse than Satan? Conversely, if judging doctrine is permitted, aye, commanded, what can or may a teacher dare though he were more than an angel from heaven? For if this were permitted, Paul would not only rebuke Peter but would also anathematize the angels of heaven.” (What Luther Says. Volume I. Page 418)

Conversations with called workers can help those workers stay true to biblical doctrines—and the Lutheran Confessions, which explain biblical doctrines.

Certainly, pray for those in public ministry positions. The apostle Paul invited prayers on his behalf: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:19-20).

As a congregational member, do what you can to ensure that your called workers have the time and resources to take advantage of continuing education opportunities. That is a way for them to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

I encourage you to follow through on these suggestions.