From the Pastor – February Newsletter Article

Members of the All Saints Lutheran Church council recently discussed evangelism related issues. Their discussion focused on the need to develop strategies to encourage unchurched individuals and families to consider membership in the congregation.

The pandemic has had a visible and detrimental effect on Christian congregations. For several months no in-person worship services were held for fear of passing the Covid virus among members. That fear was entirely reasonable. Two members died of illness related complications.

We still must contend with pandemic consequences. Recent statistic indicate worship attendance remains thirty to fifty percent below pre-covid attendance figures levels. A faithful church couple I know from another congregation said they haven’t been to church in a couple years. They watch a virtual worship service at home on their computer, when able.

Many smaller congregations find themselves struggling to survive. A church I served closed its door recently, due to the loss of members. They are not alone. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has lost forty percent of its membership over the past forty-five years. That loss has been accelerated by the pandemic. The problem will continue for the foreseeable future. Most Lutheran churches in Scott County, Iowa teeter on the verge of closing.

The problem is not totally related to pandemic issues. The decline of churches goes back more than twenty years. Around 2003 unchurched people stopped coming in the door of churches on Sunday morning. The decline accelerated by decisions made on sexuality issues around 2009. Additionally, the church has had and continues to have utterly clueless leadership on the synodical and national level. It’s been a perfect storm, as they say.

In the two years I have served All Saints Lutheran Church, we have had several people visit on Sunday mornings and two families have joined the congregation.

My belief is that only as members of the church begin to invite friends and neighbors to the church will we see growth occur. People are not walking in the door off the street. That just doesn’t happen anymore. Thousands of people drive by the church every day, but no one stops to inquire about the congregation or worship with us. That’s reality.

My suggestion is this. Make a point to invite your unchurched friends or family to church. That is the best and only way to sustain our membership.

Pastor Richard Pokora