From the Pastor – October newsletter article

Thirty years ago the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was created by a merger of three predecessor church bodies with approximately 5.8 million members.

Today the ELCA church membership consists of approximately 3.3 million members. Membership has dropped almost 2.5 million members. The Missouri Synod Lutheran Church has approximately 2 million members. So consider that membership statistic. The ELCA has lost more members than the entire Missouri Synod. That’s a figure to contemplate.

I have read numerous articles about religion in America. Fewer people join churches today and participate in church life. The so called millennials have abandoned the church in droves. The quandry of church membership loss is not just an ELCA problem. Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Congregationalist and Methodist have also experienced dramatic membership losses.

The membership loss, however, is not an across the board problem for all Christian denominations. So called evangelical and non denominational churches have resisted the trend.

There is a political factor to be considered in this conversation. The so called main line denominations, like the ELCA, have a decidedly liberal political tilt on social issues, while the evangelical and non-denominational congregations bend toward conservative views.

Major theological issues also differentiate mainline and conservative churches. Conservative churches remain conservative on social issues, such as abortion and sexuality. Mainline church tend to take their position on social issues from prevalent liberal political ideology.

The effect of this church membership change can be seen here in the Quad Cities. Lutheran churches are a shadow of their former self. Thirty years ago an area church might have had a thousand members, but today may be down to little more than one hundred members.

The solution to church membership problems is simple to identify but difficult to do. We have to take scripture seriously, renew our own faith commitment of faith and be strong disciples of Christ right here and now. For example, when have you last asked someone to attend church with you? Is church attendance a priority for your family? Has your commitment of financial support for the ministry of the church grown or declined? These are questions we need to take seriously, if we want to pass our faith on to the next generation.