Questions on Fellowship

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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.

Can a WELS member participate in any part of an LCMS church? Thank you!

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.

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.

What can you tell me about the Red Letter Christians?

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.

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