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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Door openers

Emerging churches renew Lutheran traditions & provide new entry points

Can you think of a time when someone opened a hotel door for you, greeted you with a smile and ushered you into a welcoming lobby? The door opener: someone who saw you and your baggage and invited you to make yourself at home.

That’s the welcome, baggage and all, offered by more than a dozen emerging church communities (see "Glossary") in various stages of development within the ELCA. They are the door openers for many who don’t go to church, who identify as “spiritual but not religious.”

Sunday worship draws about 120 at Spirit
Sunday worship draws about 120 at Spirit Garage, an emerging ministry that meets in a Minneapolis theater.
Those unaffiliated with any religion, according to a 2007 Pew Forum survey, include 1 in 4 young adults (aged 18 to 29) in the U.S. That number may be even higher, said Robert C. Fuller, author of Spiritual but Not Religious (Oxford University Press, 2001) and a professor of religious studies at Bradley University, Peoria, Ill.

“I think up to 40 percent of the adult population may be without attachment to any religious organization,” he said, pointing to such surveys as a 2005 Gallup poll and a 2000 religious census by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. “I often ask people: ‘What’s the largest religious group in America?’ Most say Roman Catholics or Baptists. I say: ‘No. The largest religious group in America is those who may be very religious or spiritual but [are] unchurched.’ ”

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October issue

OCTOBER issue:

Older adults: Assets to our church

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