So after learning about Lutheran theology, you’ve discovered that you definitely/maybe/kinda want to be a Lutheran. But not just any Lutheran. You definitely/maybe/kind want to be an awesome, Book of Concord quoting, super Lutheran. How then, do you find a congregation that can help you achieve this goal?
- Don’t live in an area with no Lutherans.
The best way to find a good Lutheran church is to live in an area that has good Lutheran churches. But take heart, there are good Lutheran churches in a bunch of places—Illinois, Iowa, Denver, Detroit, etc… Just don’t live in Delaware. Oh good grief, do you live in Delaware? That’s ridiculous. There’s no reason to live in Delaware. You need to move immediately.
- Attend the closest LCMS congregation.
Every LCMS pastor and congregation has vowed to be faithful to the Scriptures and the Confessions, so the gentlemanly thing to do is to presume that they meant it.
- Don’t freak out if things aren’t perfect.
Sometimes pastors inherit practices that they’re not super crazy about. Sometimes they’re more patient dealing with goofiness than you might be. So don’t tear your clothes and anoint yourself in ashes if he asks the kids to come up for a children’s sermon. This doesn’t mean he secretly denies the Trinity.
- Ask questions if things aren’t quite right
If you see or hear anything that can’t be squared with LCMS theology, such as Presbyterians in the pulpit or a communion statement broad enough to welcome Pope Francis or Oral Roberts to the table, politely ask the pastor if you can schedule a meeting with the pastor on Tuesday at 3:30 to ask him, “ummm…what?”
- Check out some websites.
If the closest LCMS congregation isn’t terribly Lutheran, check out the websites of some other congregations nearby. If the website makes it clear that the church is Lutheran, believes Lutheran stuff, and does Lutheran things, it’s probably Lutheran. If the website tells you how to faith walk your way into Discipledom before it tells you what the congregation believes, you should probably look for another website or set your computer on fire. Either one is fine. Repeat this process until you find a solid congregation. Things will go faster if you don’t live in Delaware.
If you do genuinely need help finding a congregation, though, here are a few tips. Start with the LCMS church locator. If you’re struggling with aforeimplied American Evangelicalism permeating the congregations listed nearby, here’s a resource that might be helpful—a database of straight up hymnal using Lutheran congregations.