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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Where hundreds, even thousands, gather in God's name

Large and larger congregations

Jesus promised that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). Yet many Christians today—including Lutherans—are worshiping where two or three thousand are gathered.

Each week, one out of every six ELCA members worships in a congregation with more than 500 people, according to ELCA Research and Evaluation.

Larger congregations often attribute their growth to being attuned to the needs of their community. At Sheridan Lutheran Church in the university town of Lincoln, Neb., attendance has tripled from 500 to nearly 1,600 over the past 10 years. Larry D. Arganbright, a pastor of Sheridan, believes it’s important to emphasize the Lutheran heritage of word and sacrament over traditions. “The church always needs to be in the process of being reformed and making God’s word come alive for people today,” he said.


One characteristic of large congregations


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