We have been attending an Evangical Lutheran Synod (ELS) church and taking classes from the pastor to learn what they believe.
We visited an Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) church on July 29th because our pastor was out of town, and we decided to see what another Lutheran church would be like. Then we went to VBS at that church, and then we went to church there this past Sunday (August 5th) because they had a special service for the closing of VBS.
We really liked the LCMS church a lot. We are thinking it might be a better "fit" for our family theology-wise because they seem to be more open than the ELS church. My husband and I were even able to take communion there (and our children went up for a blessing). We hadn't had communion in a while due to not being able to take it at the ELS church, and it was really nice to be able to take it at the LCMS church.
But we have really grown to like the more formal liturgy at the ELS church, and we love the pastor at the ELS church. The people are quiet, but some of them seem very sweet. There is a wonderful Chinese man who is helps take up the offering each Sunday. My children put money in the offering plate, and I think it's so sweet the way he tells my little boy (age two) a very kindly thank you after he puts in his offering. :) And it was so wonderful how the pastor asked him to do the Bible reading in Chinese one day. It was beautiful how expressive he was, and it brought tears to my eyes.
We've never said we are going to join the ELS church (and my dh tried to make that clear when we started and I *think* the pastor realizes that). Since we are going through the class, though, I feel so worried that the pastor might feel really bad if we end up going to the LCMS church. :(
The pastor at the ELS church explains Lutheranism so well, in a way that is really helping me to understand (he's taught children before, I think, probably for confirmation class?), and he has lots of good examples that help make things more clear to both my husband and me. We love him as a pastor.
But we don't feel that we can be confessional Lutherans, and I don't think (?) we can be part of an ELS church if we are not confessional Lutherans. If, after the class is all done, we can't take communion there, we would not want to continue attending there. In Lutheran theology, the Lord's Supper is hugely important. To not be able to partake of it brings sadness to me. :(
At the LCMS church, we could partake of communion even if we don't join the church. We'd get more time to think things through more, and yet still be a part of the church.
We are really feeling torn. We are hoping the answer will become clear. I truly don't want to hurt the pastor at the ELS church. I want my dh to say something to him next week to clarify to him what we are thinking now.
Oh, that's right, though. . . the pastor will be gone again next week! So we'll have to wait even longer.
But the next time we meet the next topic in the workbook we are going through with the pastor is Baptism, so our discussion about that should help make things more clear to us, since that is probably the issue we are least Lutheran about, and it's such a key issue.
We need God's guidance for sure!