Questions on Fellowship
Hello: I am a member of a local WELS church and attend meetings and work with other Christians and we have a prayer before and after the meeting. Even though they are not members of WELS, is it wrong to participate in the group prayers? Also, if I share a meal with my family, who are all Christians, but not all WELS, what about grace before the meal? Thank you for your thoughtful response.
When Christians are joined together in faith and doctrine, they are able to express their unity by joint prayer and worship, cooperative educational endeavors and shared outreach efforts (Acts 1:14; 2:42; Hebrews 10:24-25; Psalm 78:4-7; 3 John 5-8). When you and I interact with Christians whose faith differs from ours, we follow Scripture’s instructions and Continued.
I take it that when you ask about participating in an “LCMS church,” you have in mind a worship service in an LCMS church. Building on that assumption, I can be present at such a worship service, but I will refrain from doing what I do in a worship service in a church of our Continued.
After studying WELS’ worship and fellowship practices, my understanding is that non-WELS members are not allowed to lead the singing, play, or preach in our worship services, marriage ceremonies, etc. Yet our church uses music videos by groups such as Casting Crowns as the “hymns” in our contemporary service. If it is OK for Baptist youth ministers like the Casting Crowns to play and lead the songs in a worship service via video, would it also be OK for a Baptist minister to preach the sermon via video? Neither seems right to me. Using these videos seems inconsistent with our fellowship practices because we are advocating and promoting Christian pop musicians in our worship service when we do not share their beliefs. Shouldn’t we be using the talents and active participation of our own WELS musicians instead of giving the appearance of being in fellowship with heterodox denominations?
Your understanding of our fellowship practices is accurate. The scenario you described does provide opportunity for confusion and offense. Rather than expressing your concern only to me, it would be good for you to speak to your pastor—to share your concern with him and to hear his explanation of the congregation’s use of these videos.
Recently I went to a funeral for a family member who, to my knowledge, did not attend church. The service was led by a pastor from hospice and I believe he was non-denominational. A WELS pastor who sat next to me refrained from singing and praying the Lord's Prayer. The hymns were out of our hymnal with no chance of being improper. Why do we refrain from praying and singing with other religions?
A paragraph from This We Believe answers your question succinctly: “6. We believe that those whose confession of faith reveals that they are united in the doctrines of Scripture will express their fellowship in Christ as occasion permits (Ephesians 4:3). They may express their fellowship by joint worship, by joint proclamation of the gospel, by Continued.
My son, married, four children and raised WELS has, as it appears, fallen away from regular church attendance, still sending his four children to WELS schools, though he has joined the Free Masons. This cannot be good. I am familiar with the doctrine of fellowship, but am concerned with his spiritual wellbeing. Suggestions or thoughts? Thanks.
I am sorry to hear about your son’s declining church attendance and his affiliation with the Freemasons. You are correct when you say that his membership in that organization cannot be good. There are many elements of Freemasonry that are incompatible with Christianity. Allow me to pass along a previous response to a similar question Continued.
I understand that we are in fellowship with the ELS, but are there any doctrinal differences between the WELS and ELS at all?
The fact that WELS is in fellowship with ELS means that there is doctrinal agreement between the two synods. What you will find with the two synods is differences in practice—particularly in the corporate worship life of the synods’ congregations. There can be more chanting of the liturgy by ELS pastors. In addition, the hymnal Continued.
I grew up in a WELS church but now am at a Missouri Synod church. I am told by the church I grew up in that I cannot sing at my mother's funeral. She was a life-long member. What is the thought process here? I am just being told no - that is the way it is.
May the risen Lord bring you comfort and strength by assuring you that those die in the Lord are forevermore blessed (Revelation 14:13). There is, of course, no Bible passage that addresses your question specifically. That is, there is no Bible passage that states specifically who can and who cannot sing at a funeral service. Continued.
My friend invited me to BSF - an international Bible study that is open to all faiths. Questions are answered and shared only referencing the Bible and what the Holy Spirit shows/teaches you. Is it OK to go to this Bible study, since all are God- and Bible- believing women and they support you belonging and being involved in your church? Thanks.
As is the case with a worship service outside our fellowship, you could attend and observe a Bible study without participating. Your question seems to go beyond that though. BSF—Bible Study Fellowship—is an international organization that offers ten courses of study on the Bible. Their four-fold approach is to: “Answer daily lesson questions from Scripture. Continued.
Hello. I have grown up in the WELS and belong to a WELS church now. I believe that the WELS best teaches the doctrinal truths of the Bible and I have no intention of ever switching. Since I grew up WELS, it was instilled in me that we are not in fellowship with outside affiliations and if books/devotions didn't come from The Northwestern Publishing House they were not approved by the WELS. I know about fellowship and not praying with other affiliations that are not in fellowship with the WELS. I am starting to discover more Christian groups and people like If:Gathering, Deeply Rooted Magazine, Jen Hatmaker, Laura Casey, and I'll throw in K-Love. And I am torn on what should be my involvement with them. I know that it is not wrong to listen to them or participate in conversation with them. But is it wrong to apply what they are saying, about subjects like letting your light shine, being evangelists, and being strong Christian women? I know that I still need to evaluate everything they are saying against the truth of the Bible, but am I okay to still take away positive messages from them that I can apply to my life? I found these organizations because I was craving more Christian content in my life but I am not sure where the line is. I know that I should not participate in prayer with them but what about singing along to their songs, and applying their messages, take- aways to my life? Do I just need to keep a watchful eye out for mis-teachings and am I still okay to use their messages?
You will find materials, including devotional resources, at Northwestern Publishing House that originate from “outside affiliations” and other publishers. Those resources though are reviewed for their doctrinal content before being offered for sale. Beyond that, I think you answered your own questions. You recognize that you need to “evaluate everything they are saying against the Continued.
On its web site the organization describes itself as espousing “an evangelical theology.” “Evangelical” is a broad term that individuals and churches use to mean different things. It often designates a theology that professes a set of doctrines, including decision theology and a rejection of the sacraments as means of grace, but then “agrees to Continued.
Our daughter has left the church to practice various forms of paganism. She is getting married this fall and wants us to attend. I told her we could attend and acknowledge that she and her new husband love each other. She wants us to participate in a "blessings" ritual. Each person is invited to give the couple some sort of blessing. I asked if we could offer God's blessing and she agreed. Now I have no idea how to ask God to bless this sort of thing. Are we even right to attend? I am heartbroken over the whole thing
I am saddened to hear about your daughter’s departure from your church. God willing, through your Christian witness she can be reminded of biblical truths and then embrace them again and profess them through membership in a church like ours that proclaims Jesus Christ as Savior. Can you attend the blessings ritual? It seems like Continued.
I ring handbells for a secular community choir and have recently faced difficulties with church fellowship. Many of the ringers are from non-WELS congregations and when their church choir needs a substitute, they often ask us for assistance. Am I correct in saying that acting as a substitute ringer for worship (or performing as part of a small ensemble) at a non-WELS congregation would go against fellowship principles in this case? What about substituting for rehearsals but not worship? And finally, what about playing for a non-WELS wedding at the request of a friend? I suspect that the answer for most, if not all, is that it does indeed go against our fellowship principles, but it would help set my heart at ease to be sure of my doctrinal grounds for refusing to participate.
You have a correct understanding of biblical fellowship principles. It is one thing to participate in a musical group (of singers or instrumentalists) in performance or concert settings and quite another matter for a group to pool their talents in worship service settings. In the latter, doctrinal agreement among the participants is necessary (Romans 16:17; Continued.