The River and I are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA has a magazine with the clever title The Lutheran, which normally runs articles about mundane things. To borrow a phrase from Douglas Adams, it’s mostly harmless. The latest issue, though, was different. The Lutheran ran a story called The Shrinking Church. It describes how the ELCA is declining, and what people and churches are doing about it. Since I’m not the kind of person who just believes what they’re told, I decided to check the numbers myself. The ELCA publishes it’s membership information, so I had a look at them. It shows a decline of twenty percent since the ELCA was formed in 1987. Since the ELCA was formed, there was not one year where membership increased. We are definitely a denomination in decline.
I give the ELCA credit for being honest about what’s happening. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Is the ELCA willing to change to reverse the trend? That remains to be seen.