In 1963 a summer storm began brewing in the Lutheran church, but no one seemed to notice. It was quiet at the start, almost imperceptible. But dark clouds have been growing and gathering energy for 40 years now. Ignored, they will explode in a sleep-shattering blast that will shake the foundation of thousands of ministries around the globe.
But it isn't inevitable. More on this later.
First: What happened in 1963? The giving pattern changed among Lutheran congregations that now are part of the ELCA. The percentage of their offerings they passed on to support the ministries of their synods and denominations began to slide. The dollar amount kept going up as living standards rose rapidly. But the percentage began to slip, and it's been going down ever since (see March 2004, page 40).
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