Entering into Fellowship Overseas – From the Field – May 10, 2018

Written by | May, 2018
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The question arises, what if a pastor wants to join our church overseas, what should we do about that? Our practice is to have a meeting or colloquy with him. Several of our church body sit with him for a period of time and ask him questions as to what he believes according to the Bible. The answers should be given with the Scripture support for the answers.

Before this meeting or meetings, the man should be asked what church he came from, what training and where did he receive it, why did he leave the previous church body, why does he want to join our church. It should also be found out from those in his previous church if he was under church discipline or such. Are there some problems he had with the other church that should be settled with them first? As much information should be found out about the man as possible before the meeting to discuss our teachings.

If he agrees with our teachings and there is no moral problem he has that would keep him from the ministry, then the committee of men can act on his request to join with us. If possible it would be good to get in writing statements or testimonials from people who know him about his life personality, ability and previous service. It also will have to be determined how much training the man will need to be a pastor.

If we are dealing with the request of a group, church or churches overseas, we have long ago recognized that the CLC Mission Board considers the following criteria in recognizing fellowship:

1.Agreement with us in what we teach;

2.An evident readiness to abide by the Word of God;

3.Personal integrity and Christian character, in so far as this can be determined;

4.Freedom from entanglements with other church groups.

The formal recognition of fellowship is an action taken by the CLC Convention. In number 2 above we recognize that when we sit down together and through correspondence that we do not cover all that the Word teaches. There needs to be this acknowledgement to bow to the Word as we grow in understanding.

When we deal with individuals who are in places where we do not have a sister church then the practice has some variations. Correspondence is carried on to try to determine if there might be a meeting of the minds and there is true interest in the truth. Right now we have the following:

•Senegal – There was initial correspondence with one of our pastors in the states. Now the Mission Bd. is offering introductory lessons on Lutheranism, about ten lessons. These can lead to more study through the emails.
•Bangladesh – This has happened with an individual there also as above.
•Democratic Republic of Congo – The same is going on there.
•Haiti – There was correspondence. But the individual has been sick there and in the hospital which has delayed some forward movement. Two of our men visited there last year and would again.
•Zimbabwe – Ministry by Mail is sent to an individual there and lessons on doctrine will follow.
•France – We just got a contact through Pastor Blanchard and his website over there. We tried to begin to have correspondence with a man who wants to carry on lessons on doctrine.

What happens in a rupture of fellowship?

•In Nigeria the NCLC was facing division between two groups. We met with both and finally, the smaller group withdrew and would not work with us.
•In India the BELC was led by a man who lied to us. When we found out about it and confronted him, he left us. But most of the pastors and congregations continued with us.
•In Tanzania the leader of the original group and some of his people withdrew from us to seek financial assistance from another church.
•In Congo the leader there and part of his group withdrew for the same reason of financial help from other sources.
Through all of this we are the stronger for it. We do not throw up our hands and just walk away. We try to reconcile or be reconciled with applications of the Word. In the end the Word sets our course. Faith is tested and increased going through such times of turmoil. We persevere and apply Scripture.