Fellowship is a highly-valued thing among conservative Lutherans. It is a recognition that various individuals, churches, pastors, &c. ought to freely join together in worship as circumstances may allow. Recently, I read a sentence from a theologically-trained pastor claiming a person can be placed outside of a particular fellowship by a suspension of that person from a group belonging to said fellowship. If you don’t understand that sentence, read it again. By the way, this pastor happens to be “in my fellowship,” as we say.
I’d like to point out that this statement reveals a misunderstanding of fellowship. Fellowship is not of human origin. Our declarations, suspensions, or favor do not place someone “in” or “out” of fellowship. Rather, God-pleasing fellowship comes into existence when more than one person believes, teaches, and confesses the biblical doctrine, ordering their practice accordingly. Fellowship is a doctrinal matter, not a political matter. If you wish to say that someone has left the fellowship defined by the Bible’s doctrine, it is incumbent upon you to show how that person has persistently and knowingly disavowed the Bible’s doctrine. Lacking that, it is inappropriate (dare I say “disorderly” or even “offensive?”) to claim that someone has been “put out” of the fellowship.
It is possible for fellowships to gather around other doctrines too, such as the various philosophies and opinions of men. Such fellowships amount to clubs with voluntary memberships. But orthodox, evangelical and catholic fellowship is created by the Word of God. We can recognize it where it exists, but not even kings or princes have the power to change its membership.