Why has our denomination ebbed members over the years instead of grown? You aren’t alone in asking.
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A study of ELCA Lutherans showed different beliefs and experiences among members. A typical congregation includes five different groups:
• Literalist group (19 percent): Take a literal view of the Bible, angels, the devil, the virgin birth and Jesus’ physical return to Earth.
• Religious experience group (22 percent): Report an experience of angels, guiding spirits or a miraculous event.
• Church helps group (17 percent): Believe the church is important in helping members keep in touch with a greater power, live a good life, teach children values.
• Corporate group (25 percent): Defined by a high level of overall church involvement, rather than by private practices. Less traditional than the church helps group and considerably less orthodox than the literalists.
• Infrequent attenders group (17 percent): Least orthodox and much less likely than any of the other groups to practice the faith or to have religious experiences.
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