The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Phoenix rising

With God, the death of something can lead to change and, therefore, to new life

This is a challenging time to be the church. Perhaps it has always been a challenging time to be the church. I’m writing about this from the perspective of my own context—the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Some particularities in our setting make our challenges somewhat different. For example, statistics on average worship attendance indicate that 37 percent of Canadians attend worship services at least once a month compared to 56 percent in the U.S.

Illustration by Lynne FosterOne of the challenges we face in the ELCIC is the demographics that make up our church—in particular those that apply to age. We are an aging church. We aren’t great at keeping statistics, but I think a safe estimate would be that around half of our members are age 65 and older. This means that in the next 10 years we will be looking at a large membership decrease unless we can change current trends.

The other challenge is that our elders are also our best givers—and not only to the church. Current wisdom says you need to replace one elder member with 10 new ones in order to match the giving power. We aren’t growing at anywhere near that rate.

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