The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Adding up good, bad

Numbers tell us much about life in the ELCA

There are numbers everywhere in this issue of The Lutheran and in recent conversations among ELCA officials. Some numbers are encouraging, some not. All warrant our attention.

Our cover story oozes statistics. The good news is that an estimated 3,000 ELCA churches are growing. And bigger certainly seems to be better, with 69 percent of our congregations that draw 801 or more people to worship on a given Sunday reporting growth during 2005. The bad news is that small churches are generally getting littler: three-quarters of the more than 7,000 congregations that worship 150 people or less on a given Sunday shrank in 2005.

Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson addresses the denomination’s membership losses head on. Yes, he says, the ELCA has lost 275,000 members in the last five years. And yes, it can be discouraging to note somber numbers like that.

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March issue

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