The New Year always brings promise of things new and/or different. Yet it remains difficult to move forward without coming to grips with the past and present. Hence our cover story on "The shrinking church". A few of those quoted in this wide-ranging piece weren't too enthused about participating. They've lived with the downward trends among ELCA congregations over the past several years and would just as soon talk about something else.
Yet you'll find in this straightforward overview of our 9,600-plus congregations an absolutely necessary recognition of our declining membership and worship attendance. Sure the statistics are sobering, but you can't launch revitalization efforts without acknowledging the current situation. And that condition is far from hopeless. Sprinkled throughout the article are stories of congregations that are models for tackling redevelopment of congregational life through self-discovery and transformation or praiseworthy examples of congregations that faced the reality of their lack of viability and shut down in ways that continue to serve the greater church.
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© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers