Lots of Prayer

Sven Oftedahl, who was a professor at Augsburg Seminary and a President of the Lutheran Free Church (predecessor of the AFLC) called the annual conference the “powerhouse” of the denomination. What fuels that power? In my opinion, it is prayer.

If you attend an AFLC conference, you will be given many opportunities for prayer. The daily meetings begin with a devotion given by one of the pastors, and of course, a prayer. Each committee report ends with a prayer for the activities, the people, the needs and the hopes of that particular ministry. During committee reports, there is also time for anyone attending to comment, make suggestions, or pray. Sometimes a prayer request will be given to those leading the conference — maybe because someone has been taken ill, or a difficulty has come up–in that case, we stop to pray for that situation. There are also regular prayer breaks throughout the day, when we gather in small groups with those around us to pray together. Of course, there is prayer before meal breaks, and prayer during the evening worship services.

What is the result? Well, there is remarkably little conflict. People get to know one another. Prayer creates a bond that continues even when the conference ends. As congregations, I think we could all take a page out of the AFLC’s book — the more we pray together, the closer we will be to one another and to God. So, pray, pray, pray.

 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2 42

For more posts about prayer see:

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

Prayer Disciplines Part 1

Prayer and Charity

What’s so special about the AFLC?

Every denomination needs a reason to exist. Usually that has to do with doctrine, a set of beliefs. The AFLC believes in the inerrancy of Scripture — but so do other groups; they have a pietistic (experiential faith) outlook –but so do other groups. The biggest difference is in their understanding of church polity, or the way the church is organized and governed. The AFLC is very congregational, and here are some of the ways they view the church:

  1. It is a creation of the Holy Spirit
  2. It is the right form of the Kingdom of God on earth
  3. It is the beloved bride of Christ
  4. It is free, subject to no other authority other than the Word of God and His Spirit
  5. It is the body of Christ

This means that decisions made at the Annual Conference are recommendations, not rules. While other denominations govern from the top down, the AFLC does the opposite — the local congregations hold the most power. They are not assessed and required to contribute–they contribute as they feel called to do so and can specify where the donations will be spent. Everyone who comes to the Annual Conference (as long as they are members of an AFLC congregation) can vote–we are not limited to a certain number of delegates per congregation.

This year at the Annual Conference, a new president was elected. There was no campaigning. The first vote was what is called an ecclesiastical ballot — any person there can nominate any pastor. Those with less than 10% of the votes are dropped off, and the voting continues until one of the nominees receives over 50% of the votes.

These are just a few of the ways that the AFLC differs from most other denominations. If you would like to learn more, you can visit https://www.aflc.org/.

For more about the AFLC see these posts:

Part 1 — History of the AFLC(Association of Free Lutheran Churches)

Praying for the AFLC

Part 4–Our Theology

Part 2–Our Polity

Polity–this means how we are organized and why we have chosen to do things in this manner. I believe it’s safe to say that no other Lutheran Denomination in this country is organized in the same way the AFLC has chosen. The AFLC is not a synod in the traditional understanding of that word. We are an association of congregations who have agreed to work together to accomplish certain things which few, if any, congregations could do on their own; such as having a seminary and bible school, sending out missionaries on the field, or planting new churches in the American mission field.

When we look at the New Testament churches, we find no evidence of any human authority over the local congregations planted by Paul and Barnabas and Peter and so many other apostles. Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, as well as the book of Acts, all show that pastors and teachers and deacons were not imposed upon a local congregation but were raised up from within that congregation for the most part. It is why we believe, teach and confess that, “according to the Word of God, there is no authority above the local congregation except the Spirit and the Word of God.”

Notice that, while we are a free congregation, we are not free to do anything we might feel like doing–but only those things that comport with the movement of the Holy Spirit among us as we find it in the Word of God. We are free from ecclesiastical supervision, but we are nt free from the Way of Christ revealed in the Scriptures. That means we must be constantly alert to the possibility that we might be acting contrary to God’s will. There is no one who can come in and tell us to straighten up and fly right, as my dad used to say. So if we are to be a free congregation we all, every one of us, has the responsibility of knowing and clinging to God’s Holy Word as our touchstone and direction. If we fail to do this, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Stay tuned for part 3 — Our Piety

For more about the AFLC see:

Praying for the AFLC

AFLC 2019 Bible Study for Women

What is Pietism?

What’s a Pastor’s Wife To Do?

The national women’s group of our denomination (AFLC – Association of Free Lutheran Churches) has a blog especially for Pastor’s wives.  Recently I was looking at some of the articles and posts, and found one that dealt with the role of the Pastor’s wife within the congregation, the expectations that members may have.  That got me to thinking about how I perceive my role of Pastor’s wife, and how I use my gifts and talents in that role.

I think I’m lucky to have become a Pastor’s wife later in life (my husband is a second career guy).  I know what my abilities are and I’ve learned which tasks I’m good at, and which ones I should probably avoid (for everyone’s good).  Since I spent a long time as a lay person in a small, mission congregation, I thought things wouldn’t change much as a Pastor’s wife.  I’m still a lay person within the congregation, and my job is the same as everyone else’s — to use my spiritual gifts within the congregation and community where I’ve been placed.  I’m an introvert, so I don’t really enjoy standing out, I just want to be one of the team.

I still think that, and our congregation has actually been a blessing to me by letting me join in whenever I want, appreciating me and allowing me to use my own talents.  I have, however, come to see that there’s a little more to being the Pastor’s wife than that.  Often I hang back from leadership positions because I don’t want the congregation to become dependent upon me in a particular position — after all, the time will come when we leave, either for another call or for retirement.  Sometimes I do feel a little pressure (which may be self-imposed) to participate, if only by showing up, in everything.  I worry about having favorite friends within the congregation, and try to take an interest in everyone.  In fact, I am interested in everyone, but even within a family, we gravitate toward others who are similar to ourselves.  Even though all of us should be good examples to others, I realize that being the Pastor’s wife is a pretty visible role and people are watching and noticing what I do.

Now, as Sarah said in her last blog, I’m not whining.  I love our congregation, and they have been a joy and a blessing to me.  Pastor’s wife is just what my life is right now, but I’m honestly curious.  I’d like our readers and authors (some of them are Pastor’s wives as well) to tell me — what do you expect a Pastor’s wife to do?  What is the proper way to be a steward of the role we’ve been given?

Study Resources for Ladies

Since we have no set topic this month, I thought I would post about the Bible Study resources available for women through the WMF (Women’s Missionary Federation).  Every year this group publishes a Bible Study written by a woman of the Association of Free Lutheran Churches.  Each study has 11 lessons, intended to be used at monthly women’s meetings within the congregation.  Of course, the studies could be used by other small groups or individuals as well.  Writers are not paid for their work, and proceeds go toward the printing of the studies and the WMF projects — missionaries and education.

Click on “WMF” on the header of our blog to go to the website, then choose resources to see what studies are available.  I was privileged to write this year’s study on the book of Acts.



Who are these Free Lutherans?

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 freelutherans@myactv.net.


Praying for the AFLC

JOIN US starting today, for 21 Days of prayer as we focus our petitions to the Lord towards the ministry of The ARC

and also towards the upcoming

2016 AFLC Annual Conference!

Together, let us pray!

 The ARC is the Association Retreat Center where our denomination (AFLC) is holding their annual conference in June.