If success is based on numbers, then the Church is failing. I don’t mean just Zion. It’s more than just the LCMS. The Christian Church in America is getting smaller. Every mainline denomination is facing the same frustrating problem. Each year seems to have fewer people in our pews and on our membership roles than the year before.
This is a complete reversal for us. The Church in America until recently had enjoyed persistent growth for several centuries before our peak around 1973. It makes sense. Many of our American ancestors left Europe and came to America for the free practice of religion, among other things. But now in these last days, everything has changed.
The point of this brief article is not to unpack this change. If you’re interested, you can read the full report from the Journal of Lutheran Mission in their December 2016 edition. It is readily available on the Internet.
The question I want to ask is the same Christians have been asking for the last 40 years: What do we do about it? What do we do about the abandonment of the Christian Faith in the heart and soul of our people?
Every Christian Church in America and in the west has struggled with this question. Each denomination, depending on their church tradition, has tried different answers to it.
Some, who think the Church should be completely separate from culture, have tried to double down on their separation.
Others, who think the Church should conform to the culture to be appealing to it, have done so to the point of removing almost all distinctly Christian beliefs. Such churches now look and feel no different than a rock concert with an inspirational speech. [Read more…]