The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Demographics make losses worse

Gray, no hair abound

Thank you for your two fine articles, “Mainline decline” and “What’s the future?” It’s encouraging indeed to learn that someone who has the ear of the presiding bishop is knowledgeable about this urgent issue. When you consider the demographics of church attendance, the numbers are even more alarming than those shown in the growth/decline chart. Those gray-haired women and balding men who now occupy the pews are the same innocent young children who attended Sunday school, vacation Bible school and church camp in the ’50s and ’60s.

Margery S. Johnstone
San Diego, Calif.

The sociological explanation for the decline in mainline denominations, according to The Churching of America by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark, is that mainlines do not ask much and do not promise much (mainline churches and ELCA clergy are, more or less, universalists) and so they really are not different from the world. A prophetic interpretation might be, mainline churches are more in line with the spirit of the times (or at least spirit of the educated, liberal class) than the Spirit of God, of Christ and of the Scriptures. I pray and work for the ELCA to return to justification through faith in the crucified, to holy living and to serving those in need, as the Lord, his apostles and the prophets direct us.

Todd Murken
Green Bay, Wis.

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February issue


Embracing diversity