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Criteria

The congregations listed on this site are known for the following:

Historic Liturgy and Divine Service

The Divine Service is observed with a form of the historic liturgy.  Service orders are taken from TLH, LW, or LSB.  The use of Lutheran Service Builder and the printing of service orders are fine.  Mining the richness of the liturgy through additional psalm settings, verses, etc., is expected.  Hymnody is doctrinally sound.  Music is reverent and of the highest caliber possible for the congregation.  Preaching is normally from the one-year or three-year lectionary.  Vestments are used by the called and ordained officiant, preacher, and celebrant.  Excluded is any service labeled "comtemporary," "praise," or "blended," and the writing of one's own service order (Ap XXIV 1).

The congregation upholds AC XIV:  "Concerning church government it is taught that no one should publicly teach, preach, or administer the sacraments without a proper [public] call."

Closed Communion

Closed Communion is the practice of partaking of the Sacrament and being united at an altar with only those Christians of the same public confession in all articles of the faith.  It is the historic practice of the Church, and it is prompted by love both for God’s Word and for God’s people.

Congregations listed on this site actually practice Closed Communion by having a communion statement in the bulletin or by the pastor verbally making a communion announcement, and by personally asking visitors if they are a members in good standing of an LCMS congregation or a congregation of a church body in fellowship with the LCMS.

Frequent Commuion

Divine Service with the Sacrament of the Altar is offered at least every other Sunday and on feast days.  Weekly communion is preferred and strongly encouraged (Ap XXIV 1).

Thorough Catechesis

Catechism classes use the Small Catechism.  Adult Instruction is sufficient in length to teach the six chief parts of the Catechism and to thoroughly cover all articles of the faith.  No one-day or two-day weekend instruction courses.  No informal meeting with the pastor a few times for membership.  Thorough instruction is required and then the Rite of Confirmation before the assembly of believers in the congregation.

Male Headship

Male headship is practiced in the congregation by, at the very least, having qualified men serve as elders (or equivalent), president, and vice president (1 Cor. 11:3,14:33-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-15).  Any lectors or communion assistants are men.  Women are honored and served with sacrificial, male leadership.  Elders care for the needs of the single women and widows, especially in congregations with only male voters.

(Consider the 2005 CTCR Opinion on authenteinhttps://www.lcms.org/about/leadership/commission-on-theology-and-church-relations/documents/man-and-woman-in-the-church.  Also see the minority opinion:  https://www.lcms.org/about/leadership/commission-on-theology-and-church-relations/documents/general-resources#minority-opinions.)

Faithful Practice and Church Discipline

The pastor(s) and congregation are known for addressing, in love, sins of despising the Divine Service, cohabitation before marriage, immodest dress, false teaching, etc.  The pastor does not look the other way when discipline is needed.  He does not perform marriages for couples who are cohabitating.  The congregation does not receive into membership individuals who have fled appropriate discipline from other LCMS congregations.

Use of Doctrinally Sound Materials

Sunday School materials, devotionals, books used for doctrine, choir music, etc., are consistent with the theology of the Lutheran Confessions.  Books and articles used for helpful information or comparison to Lutheran theology are always presented with the Lutheran distinction made clear.

Rejection of Unionism and Syncretism

The pastor(s) and congregation do not participate in events or groups that would offer a false, mixed, or heterodox confession of faith to the public.  Joint prayer services with leaders or members of false religions (e.g. A Prayer for America - Yankee Stadium, 2001) are rejected.  Men's and women's groups do not hold meetings and devotions with ELCA congregations or others with whom the LCMS is not fellowship.

Only civil and community endeavors (e.g. life marches, food drives, home building, etc.) are accomplished with unbelievers and Christians of a heterodox confession.  Even then, the pastor and congregation are careful to evaluate circumstances and statements that might make for an unclear confession of faith.

Religious Freedom

Regardless of how the congregation responded to the covid virus in 2020-2021, the pastor(s) and congregation are now committed to rejecting mask and vaccination mandates.  Neither shall the congregation pressure people to mask or take the vaccines.  Personal protection remains a matter of individual liberty guided by a Christian conscience.  Additionally, the Divine Service will not be canceled or shut down for healthy people.  For those who are fearful or immunocompromised, accommodations may be made, like additional, smaller services, or communion brought to the home by the pastor.  The Sunday Divine Service will remain for those who desire it, whether two or three.

Government infringement on the right of religious freedom and the right to assemble will be opposed with civil disobedience and, possibly, legal action.

(Consider the faculty opinion from CLTS, St. Catherines:  https://concordia-seminary.ca/2020/06/23/faculty-opinion-facts-and-faith-what-we-know-to-be-true-in-the-face-of-a-pandemic/.)