Anyways, here's the problem. The WELS and the ELS have false doctrines of Church and ministry. They are nonetheless correct about most everything else. So, is this a deal breaker?
To think about this problem, let's clarify how our Lutheran tradition works. Historically within Lutheranism, fellowship has been predicated on the basis of levels of doctrinal agreement. This was all worked out by Nicholas Huinnius in the early 17th century. According to Huinnius, there are two kinds of doctrine. Fundamental doctrine and non-fundamental doctrines. So, for example, states Huinnius, the doctrine of the Trinity is a fundamental dogma of the Church since it has always defined the Church. Moreover, it would be impossible for the Church to fulfill its mission without reference to the Trinity, since the gospel is about the advent of the Triune God in salvation. On the other hand, the Church has not always had the dogma of the Anti-Christ and if someone doesn't believe that there will be an Anti-Christ (for whatever reason) they'll still go to heaven.
Fundamental dogmas are divided up into two categories: primary fundamental dogmas and secondary fundamental dogmas. Huinnius names the Trinity, Incarnation, atonement, creation, sin, and justification by faith as fundamental dogmas. In other words, if you don't buy into these you're not a Christian. Later Lutheran theologians (notably Quenstedt and Hollaz) shorten the list to everything above except justification by faith. Justification by faith is not a fundamental dogma because a person can intellectually not believe in it, but in practice have justifying faith. I see this in most Catholics I know, who have the very minimum of creedal orthodoxy and in practice do trust in Jesus as their savior. This of course would not be possible if they did not hold to the minimum belief in the Trinity and Incarnation- but it is possible without an intellectual commitment to the specific doctrine of justification by faith.
Sharing fundamental dogmas is enough to be considered Christian, but not enough to have fellowship. There must be a total agreement on secondary fundamental dogmas. Huinnius includes among these belief in the sole authority of Scripture and a proper understanding of the sacraments. He does not mention Church and ministry. Later Lutherans would of course include belief in the article of justification. These dogmas are necessary for fellowship (pulpit and altar) because they define the Church's praxis in its proclamation of the gospel. Though a person could intellectually not believe in justification by faith and still have justifying faith, it is hard to see how the true visible Church could maintain a pastor who rejected the dogma from his pulpit. Moreover, it is hard to see how the Church could allow people to receive the Lord's Supper or a pastor to preside at the Lord's Supper if they did not believe in the real presence or that the mass was a sacrifice. It would contradict the fundamental praxis of the Church which is the proclamation of the gospel.
Nevertheless, in Huinnius' context we can see his point: Lutherans can acknowledge that Catholics and Reformed folks are still Christians. Nevertheless, they are not worthy of fellowship because fellowship is predicated on the basis of total agreement on fundamental dogmas (primary and secondary).
How does this relate to our context and the possible revival of the synodical conference? Well, here's my question to you (and I don't know the answer and I'm trying to figure it out myself): Can Church and ministry properly be understood as a primary or secondary fundamental dogma? If they are not, then I can see a way forward to revive the synodical conference and if not then its impossible. I guess, I would say at this point- how does holding a wrong understanding of the office of ministry or certain aspects of the dogma of the Church impede the proclamation of the gospel? I could see how it might, but I'd like to see people's reasoning.
Give me your reasoning. I'd be very interested in hearing it!