Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Where the Lutheran Church Is Truly Growing
Most of us realize that the era of church growth has come to an end. In fact, it never really existed. The mega churches simply recycled the disgruntled church shoppers by luring them in with promises of entertainment and feel-good services. The current number of Lutherans in this country rests at 7.4 million. That number represents a 10% drop during the years 1990 to 2010. So, all those efforts to "grow the church" did little to nothing to stem the tide of loss. Truth be known we probably sent as many to other denominations as out the back door. Now compare that figure with a place like India which has enjoyed a 1,379% growth rate in the Lutheran Church in that same 20 year period. They currently have 1.9 million members in a country known more for its Hindus and other non-Christians as for Christians in general. Ethiopia gave me another surprise. They have 5.6 million total Lutherans and have registered a growth rate of 495%. Not surprising is to discover that countries such as Germany and Sweden have lost Lutherans in the double digit percentage rage. I am not aware of all the reasons for the differences, but I can't help but wonder if liberal trends are simply a church killer. Look at the mainline churches today such as the Presbyterians and Episcopalians and the ELCA. Each of these is in decline. Africa is known for its more conservative Lutheranism. Nigeria has grown by 390% in 20 years, with a total membership of 2 million. Perhaps they cherish what we are discarding and finding that in places torn up by war and bloodshed watering down the faith simply does not bring any real comfort. I think we should be studying the church in these places. They have much to teach us.