Q. What are the teachings of the Lutheran Church regarding who may be a godparent for a child? Can non-LCMS individuals serve as sponsors? What responsibilities would the godparent be agreeing to?
A. In response to the question "Why does the church encourage the use of sponsors at Baptism?" Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation (Concordia Publishing House, 1991 edition) summarizes as follows: "Sponsors witness that those who receive this sacrament have been properly baptized. They also pray for them and in the case of children, help with their Christian upbringing, especially if they should lose their parents." The Catechism adds: "Only those of the same confession of faith should be sponsors." One of the reasons for this practice is to avoid putting family members or friends who belong to churches of a different confession in a difficult or compromising situation, in which they would be asked to take vows that they may not be able to carry out in good conscience (given their own religious views and convictions).
The LCMS entrusts to individual pastors and congregations the responsibility of making decisions about finding ways to involve such people in the baptismal service (e.g., sometimes they are asked to serve as "witnesses" to the baptism). Since decisions in this regard often depend on the specific circumstances involved, it is best to speak to the pastor himself about such matters. He would also be able to share more specific information about the form of the baptismal service used in his congregation and the precise wording of the vows that sponsors or godparents are asked to take.