Why do you call yourselves Lutheran?
Written by Pastor Ben Workentine
When you see churches as you drive around, you might see things like “First Baptist” or “United
Methodist” or “St. John the Baptist Catholic.” If you didn’t grow up going to church, these names
might mean as much to you as “Lutheran” does. Why don’t we all just call ourselves Christian?
We promise it isn’t meant to be confusing.
Christians generally agree on who God is, what Jesus did to bring salvation, and where we go
when we die. Would it surprise you to learn that not all Christians agree on everything, though?
We sometimes disagree on things like how to live a Christian life, how we’re supposed to
organize our churches, or how best to understand certain parts of the Bible. We don’t like to be
divided over these things, but often these differences end up forcing us apart. So when you see
different names like these – we call them denominations – it says that church agrees with
Lutheran churches started in the 1500s when a man named Martin Luther – a German monk
who grew up Catholic – disagreed with the Catholic Church on some important truths, including
whether getting into heaven was a free gift from God, or something you had to earn. Luther was
convinced that the Bible teaches that forgiveness and salvation are totally free – that’s why it’s
called grace. The Catholic Church didn’t like this, so they kicked him out, and many people went
Luther didn’t ask for the churches to be named after him, but soon after he died they started
calling themselves “Lutheran,” and the name stuck. Ever since then, Lutheran churches have
been known for agreeing with him that forgiveness and salvation are free gifts from God, bought
by Jesus when he died and rose again. We call ourselves Lutheran because we agree with that
The real question is, “Do you need to call yourself a Lutheran to be with us?” The answer is no;
we teach Lutheran teaching here, but we are a church of Jesus-followers, not Luther-followers.
We want to help you find the joy of following Jesus as you live in his free gift of grace.