I thought since our theme this month is freedom, it might be a good time to talk a little about Free Lutherans. When I was younger, I didn’t know there were different kinds of Lutherans, but there are actually quite a number of Lutheran denominations. Sometimes the history goes back to different countries or ethnic groups (in our case, Norwegian) and different ideas about church polity (that means how the church should be organized).
The Bible verse on our church banner says:
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom 2 Corinthians 3:17
You can read the history of Free Lutherans by clicking on “AFLC” at the top of our home page, so I am not going to go into that here. Instead I will just tell you that a big difference in our denomination is organization. We are not a Synod, just an association. The final human authority is vested in the local congregation, subject to the word of God and the Holy Spirit. This means each congregation is free to decide most things on their own: decisions made at the annual conference are “suggestions” and not binding. We are not assessed any contributions for the larger organization, whatever they receive is given freely by congregations and individuals. We are not “sent” a pastor or even required to choose a pastor from the AFLC clergy rolls.
Yes, we are one of those groups who consider the Bible infallible and we agree to accept the standard Christian creeds and Lutheran confessions. Freedom does not mean believing anything you want.
We have a seminary, a Bible school, publications of our own, missionaries, home missionaries and an evangelism department. They are separately incorporated entities, with boards that are elected at the annual AFLC conference. And here’s another thing–anyone from an AFLC congregation who goes to the conference can speak and vote on any issue. There are no designated delegates. In fact, at the conference there is a great deal of prayer and fellowship: it is regarded as a time of spiritual refreshment instead of just a business meeting. Anyone is free to attend.
What does all this freedom mean? Like the quotes I have been posting, it’s something of a paradox. More freedom means more responsibility. The congregation must make decisions for itself. They decide how much to give and which ministries to support. They decide who to call as a Pastor. They decide what the worship service will be like. They can decide whenever they wish, to terminate their association with the AFLC and associate with a different group.
That being said, the larger organization is there to help and advise. Our congregation has received visits from three AFLC presidents, the chairmen of the Mission and Home Mission Departments, students from the Bible School and others.
I hope this has given you a taste of why we are free Lutherans and if you have further interest please visit our church website (or our church if you live in our area), the AFLC website, or email us at email@example.com.