Walther “Checklist”, by Pastor Tom Chryst

Pastor Tom Chryst posted this on his blog and mentioned it in a comment here; I thought it should be called to everyone’s attention and therefore posted it independently of the other comment thread.


Recently, a Lutheran discussion forum mentioned this document by C.F.W. Walther:

“The Proper Form of an Evangelical Lutheran Congregation Independent of the State”

I set out to create an even shorter outline, or “checklist” for evaluating congregational practice according to Walther’s “purpose and form”. Here it is:



Adapted from, “The Proper Form of an Evangelical Lutheran Congregation” by C.F.W. Walther

A. Congregational Meetings

B. The Word of God dwells richly

C. Purity of Doctrine/Life and Discipline

D. Temporal Welfare of Members

E. Decently and in Good Order

F. Unity with other Local Congregations

G. The Church at Large



More specifically:

A. Congregational Meetings

  1. Public
  2. Encourage Participation
  3. Officers
  4. Proper Business – Doctrine, Officers, Discipline, Good Order
  5. All decisions in accord with the Word. Adiaphora by vote
  6. No shows don’t vote – Major decisions are confirmed later
  7. Careful minutes recorded
  8. Opened and closed with prayer

B. The Word of God dwells richly

  1. Establish/Maintain Office of Holy Ministry
  2. Proper Call (process) of Pastor
  3. Public Services of Worship
  4. Baptism, Communion, Pastoral Care, Funerals
  5. Establish a School
  6. No Conventicles

C. Purity of Doctrine/Life and Discipline

  1. All members strive to grow in the Word
  2. Establish officers to assist the Pastor (Elders)
  3. Use only pure books and ceremonies
  4. Admits new members properly
  5. Formal Church Discipline
  6. Deposing Pastors – only properly!
  7. No toleration of Syncretism or Unionism

D. Temporal Welfare of Members

  1. Provide for the Pastor
  2. Provide for the poor, widow, orphan, aged and infirm
  3. Care for the sick
  4. Bury the dead – even the poor

E. Decently and in Good Order

  1. Pastor records membership and pastoral acts
  2. Secretary keeps congregational documents
  3. A Treasurer – monthly reports – auditing
  4. Almoners appointed to care for poor
  5. Acquire and maintain property
  6. Items/Equipment necessary for Public Service
  7. Meeting times strictly enforced
  8. No precipitous votes
  9. Majority should yield to minority in some cases
  10. One speaker at a time
  11. Proper voting procedures
  12. Written reports
  13. Written description of congregational offices
  14. Constitutions may be amended, except regarding Word of God
  15. Each member contributes according to conscience

F. Unity with other Local Congregations

  1. Pray for all the saints
  2. Endeavor to be at one with other true Lutheran congregations
  3. Agree with other congregations regarding “territory”
  4. Honor and issue transfers
  5. Do not receive excommunicated members from orthodox congregations
  6. Receive those wrongfully excommunicated
  7. Consent to calling of pastors between congregations
  8. Seek advice from and advise sister congregations
  9. Assist sister congregations in distress
  10. Allow its pastor to serve a sister congregation in vacancy

G. The Church at Large

  1. Encourage young men to become pastors
  2. Provide support for Gospel work “Bread of Life”
  3. Distribution of Bibles
  4. Join in mission work
  5. Unite with Lutherans in our country to build the Kingdom

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.


Walther “Checklist”, by Pastor Tom Chryst — 7 Comments

  1. Congregational meetings:

    “Careful minutes recorded ”

    Ratified and shared promptly with those
    who are expected to contribute $$ & time,
    but have no vote.

  2. @helen #3

    Wow, wouldn’t that be nice!

    One thing that frustrates me no end is there is no way to find out what happened at a meeting that you missed! Minutes are never ready until the following meeting!

  3. @Rev. Kurt Hering #5

    Found Walther’s definition of conventicles under point B.25. To wit:
    “In order that the Word of God may have full scope in a congregation, the congregation should lastly tolerate no divisions by way of conventicles, that is, of meetings for instruction and prayer aside from the divinely ordained public ministry, 1 Cor. 11:18; Jas. 3:1; 1 Cor. 12:29; 14:28; Acts 6:4; Rom. 10:15: ‘How shall they preach except they be sent?'”

    Wow!!! That would pretty much put an end to what, 75%-90% of our Christian education programs, small groups, and niche ministries?

    Now, is he right? Has he rightly divided and applied the Scriptures he quotes? If not, why not?

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