The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


What's up with the numbers?

Readers posit reasons why membership is going down

I cannot thank you enough for the cover story “How we grow in members” (January). The article has a good deal of exciting insight on transformation from some great ELCA leaders and congregations. But Exercise 1 in the study guide is worth the price of admission by itself. I have been reading about, and receiving training in, the shift from membership to discipleship for the last couple of years. This shift in direction has truly reoriented and revitalized my pastoral ministry and personal faith life. Many of the books, articles and training events I’ve read, attended and been using are from ELCA leaders. So to have this theme now presented—at last!—at the high level of visibility and legitimation, dare I say promotion, represented by coverage in our national magazine—this new direction represents the single most promising path for a fruitful and faithful future for the church.

Steve Churchill
San Leandro, Calif.

Customer service

All the reasons cited in this article are true. However, no one answered one fundamental question: “Why do we attend church services?” It seems the megachurches know the secret. Some articles I read call it “customer service.” I simply call it “make the worshiper feel better.” That’s not an easy task because what inspires you may not inspire me. Larger churches can provide greater variety than smaller churches. On the other hand, smaller congregations could improve attendance by paying more attention to how their members and visitors feel.

Carl W. Fritsch
Lutsen, Minn.

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