Friday, June 27, 2008

Communion pre-service - then the Worship Gathering

Back from a business trip and I thought I would share a new trend in WELS communion practices. This "outreach" minded church has decided to have communion 2o minutes prior to the worship gathering. Members that want to take communion (offered twice a month) come 20 minutes prior to the service. Communion is offered and then a little fellowship and socializing break. Then the praise band starts to crank it up and the worship gathering (as it is called) begins minus communion and the liturgy.

I asked a member why communion was held prior to the worship "gathering." I was told that if you didn't feel prepared to take communion you wouldn't be embarrassed by having everyone see you not go up. He also noted that this way visitors that can't come up to communion, aren't embarrassed, and don't feel left out.

Hmmm.. the latest WELS communion trend. ?


Anonymous said...

Stealth communion is the logical step following the Sneaker Service. In the Sneaker Service, every effort is made to be non-Lutheran, non-liturgical, non-sacramental. The goal of the Sneaker Service is to sneak people into the pseudo-Lutheran church. Then they can join the fun of Stealth communion. Next on the list - tranny pastors. You think he's a man for several years. Then, one day, he/she outs himself/herself and the congregation realizes they ordained a woman. Then they out themselves and the pastor realizes... On and on. Willow Creek, thou hast conquered.


Anonymous said...

Isn't this the other side of an opt-used coin? I seem to remember some Lutheran churches "dismissing" people from the service, allowing visitors and non-members to leave, at the end of the service. Then the remnant communed.

Anonymous said...

One incident hardly makes a trend . . . unless you are hoping for one.

Just shout'in

Anonymous said...

Pseudo-Lutherans indeed - and this is usually just a transitional phase, too. I know from experience, having been raised in the 70's as a Charismatic Lutheran. Instead of celebrating Sacramental union with Christ (and the forgiveness of sins that is conveyed through this Means) as the high-point of the Divine Service, such Lutherans-In-Transition have shunted it off as a "pre-service activity." Rather than having the courage to herald confessional unity by openly practicing Close Communion, they instead demonstrate shame for Biblical Teaching, and personal cowardice by hiding it from their visitors. Rather than nourishing the weak in faith among their own membership with the Gospel in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and extolling the Sacrament's value before them in the context of the Divine Service (that the Holy Spirit would work to strengthen their faith and motivate them to the preparation the congregation requires of them...), they eliminate this Means of Grace, and source of motivation, from the Divine Service altogether. Perhaps they achieve the unity they seek at the Lord's Table, but they also create division in the congregation, the pious and the impious, unavoidably creating "levels of Christians" within the congregation – a hallmark of Pietism and of modern pop-church Charismatic theology. Rather than gather around those Means appointed in Scripture through which the Holy Spirit works, they invent their own means, and seek the Holy Spirit where He is not to be found – in the fervor of their own Worship. Worship is not a Means of Grace! Indeed, the primacy of Worship (i.e., our priestly Sacrifice before God), not the Means of Grace (i.e., God's gracious work in us), is behind this congregation's vague and nonchalant reference to the Divine Service as a "Worship Gathering," in which two things are immediately, and admittedly, most important to them, (1) man's work of offering thanksgiving and praise to God, and (2) man's work of making his co-worshipers feel good.

What's next, you ask? You can expect deliberate confusion over the Holy Spirit's work in the Sacrament of Baptism, to make room for Baptism of the Holy Spirit and other forms of ictic conversion. You can expect further relaxation of Fellowship standards in the name of experiencing the Holy Spirit with other confessing Christians (calling it, "investigation" or "sharing information," at first -- much like the Catholic Priests of Notre Dame University did back in the 60's, who kicked off the Catholic Charismatic Renewal after finding themselves enamoured with Pentecostalism as Vatican II encouraged them to "investigate" alternate forms of Christianity and even adopt forms that may be "helpful"). You can expect the return of the Lord's Supper to the "Worship Service," only it will be Open in practice. You can expect a full frontal attack on Scriptural Headship teachings, to make room for female leadership in increasingly effeminate and amorous worship practices – and to make room for female prophetic speech within the service itself, which inevitably goes hand-in-hand with Charismatic piety styles and worship practices. And then it's all downhill from there.

Such congregations have rejected the church's prime vehicle of demonstrating material participation, not only in the Una Sancta, not only in the Church Militant, but in Synodical Unity – that of a shared, or common, Liturgy. Sure, they're free to do so, but in the process such Lutherans-In-Transition have turned to their brothers and said, "We don't want to worship like you, we don't want to sound like you, we don't want to look like you, because we don't want our visitors to perceive that we share unity with you; we have our own ideas regarding what is good and profitable, we refuse to take your advice regarding what has been shown to be good and profitable, we refuse to be corrected by you; we are content to experiment on our own; stay out of our business." In the process, they isolate themselves from the rest of their church body, creating un-brotherly divisions as a result (which they accuse their brothers of causing); they run afoul of the Scriptures (by regarding and treating Worship as a Means of Grace); they show by their actions that they despise the Sacraments (by minimizing the Lord’s Supper and [as eventually will happen] Baptism); and they test the limits of Biblical Fellowship by sharing worship activities with the heterodox (eventually exceeding these limits as a matter of common practice, rejecting scrutiny, rejecting correction, refusing to provide full justification for what brothers in their greater fellowship can only consider confusing and offensive statements and actions on the basis that "it's our local ministry, and none of your business").

In such congregations, the tares have been sown among the wheat while the "gardeners" – that is, those responsible for the spiritual well-being of those in the congregation – have nurtured the tares rather than rip them out by the roots. It is time to burn those fields. Let them join Renewal in Missouri and the AALC – it's where they belong anyway. That is to say, there must be some point – some definitive point – at which brotherly forbearance must come to an end.

Freddy Finkelstein

Anonymous said...

What church was this and who is the pastor?

Curious Jorge

John said...

Curious Jorge,

First of all, why does it matter who it was and where it happened? Do you want to visit this church? Do you want to speak to this pastor?

How will this change your perspective on the topic at hand?

Is it appropriate to remove the Holy Supper from the church service?

Oh by the way, his members don't address him as pastor.

Anonymous said...


I would like to check out their web site if they have one.

I may know the pastor/church and that might supply some information or if it is close I could swing by.

Since they don't mind this kind of activity I am sure they don't mind if people know they are up to it.

It is not appropriate to do as you described above.

Curious Jorge

John said...

Ok..let me know what you think..

Try opening this link in a new window..
Christ the Rock

Anonymous said...


Thanks. Will do when I get the chance.


RandomDan said...

I was told that if you didn't feel prepared to take communion you wouldn't be embarrassed by having everyone see you not go up.

You know, the best preparation to take communion is the liturgy itself. This has to be one of the dumbest excuses I have ever heard.

Anonymous said...

"I was told that if you didn't feel prepared to take communion you wouldn't be embarrassed by having everyone see you not go up. He also noted that this way visitors that can't come up to communion, aren't embarrassed, and don't feel left out."

Oh, my. So when one goes up he is presumably not embarrassed. When he doesn't go - and is seen! - he is embarrassed. So this is about us and retained our pride and self respect.

If this is what this pastor has said then indeed he knows nothing of repentance and the Sacrament.