Lutheran Spokesman

"…the Scriptures cannot be broken." John 10:35

Subscribe

Is it God-Pleasing To Visit a Church of Another Denomination?

Written by Wayne Eichstadt | February, 2015
Post Tags
Post Categories I'm Glad You Asked,Series

BibleChurch_atsize_Morguefile1571300385760

 

The answer to our question will ultimately come from the answer to another question:
“What is my purpose for visiting
the church?”

In answering this question, we do well to start with what we mean by a church “of another denomination.”

First of all, we are speaking of another Christian church—a church in which Christ and His Word are proclaimed. Visiting a non-Christian church involves
a different set of considerations that will not be addressed here.

Secondly, it is valuable to recognize what the implications are when a church is identified as being of “another denomination.” Essentially, we are understanding this to mean a church with which we are not in religious fellowship. Lutheran churches outside of the Church of the Lutheran Confession (ELCA, LC-MS, WELS, ELS, and so on) are still within our denomination—that is, Lutheran; but because we are not in established religious fellowship with them, the same principles apply to them as apply to churches outside of our denomination such as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and others.

Some Christian churches stray so much from Scriptural truth that we would find very little in common with them. With other churches, we may have very much in common. However, if we do not share a clear and expressed unity of faith and confession, then to engage together in an outward expression of fellowship is not consistent with God’s will. God desires confessional unity among those who express religious fellowship through worship, joint church work, prayer, and Christian education (compare 1 Corinthians 1:10,
Amos 3:3, and Psalm 133:1).

Certainly, simply being at a church of a different denomination does not need to create concern for the confessional Christian. A variety of community events—blood drives, elections, and informational meetings—take place at church facilities. The answer to our question will ultimately come from the answer to another question: “What is my purpose for visiting the church?”

One such purpose may be to attend a wedding, funeral, or other significant event to which we have been invited by family or friends. Another reason to visit may be to observe what the church teaches. The purpose of this type of visit is not  to worship or to be taught God’s Word. A confessional Christian is able to attend these events without actively participating in the worship, and can do so without compromising God’s will.

It is a testimony to the power of God’s Word that even in such circumstances, if the true Gospel is proclaimed, there can still be comfort and benefit to those who hear. This is true regardless of who is proclaiming it. The Apostle Paul wrote, “. . . in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).

If the purpose of visiting another church is instead to actively worship, to learn from Scriptures in a Bible Study, to pray, to engage in the work of the Gospel, to support that ministry, or any other practice of religious fellowship, then it is time to rethink the visit. In these circumstances, God’s desire for unity among those who make such expression of religious fellowship and His direction to remain separate from false teaching would apply.

If you have further questions on this topic, or to discuss these matters more fully, please talk to your pastor. He’s called as your spiritual shepherd and will be happy to study and apply Scripture with you in these matters.

Wayne Eichstadt is associate pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Mankato, Minnesota.

Additional Articles

“You’ve Got to Believe”?

Written by Timothy Daub
Post Tags
Post Categories Walther Law Gospel

Give Your Burdens to the Lord

Written by Mark Weis
Post Tags
Post Categories Gems from the Old Testament

Heaven Has Been Torn Open!

Written by Nathan Pfeiffer
Post Tags
Post Categories Devotions

SEEN IN PASSING

Written by Paul Naumann
Post Tags
Post Categories Editors Comments

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church—Melrose, Wisconsin

Written by Chad Seybt
Post Tags
Post Categories What's New With You?

Student Counsellors

Written by Stephen Sydow
Post Tags
Post Categories ILHC Eau Claire

The Clarity of Scripture

Written by Wayne Eichstadt
Post Tags
Post Categories Heroes of Faith

The Lord’s Purpose: Compassion and Mercy

Written by Robert Sauers
Post Tags
Post Categories Studies in the New Testatment

The Roman Mass

Written by David Schaller
Post Tags
Post Categories Our Liturgical Legacy

The Word is Growing in the Himalayas!

Written by Raju Bithrakoti
Post Tags
Post Categories Notes from the field