Tea Leaves

My denominational polity published a new examination of the state of Christianity (and particularly our denomination).

It’s a long, dense, statistics-packed paper that studies economics and societal factors to try and determine why Christianity and the LC-MS are declining in America.  The results are somewhat less than satisfying.  The most prominent conclusion is the declining birth rate in America (and the LC-MS) is probably the single-biggest factor determining smaller numbers of congregants and congregations these days.  Other societal factors also weigh in, as do economics, but all of these are murky and unclear compared to a pretty clear-cut population decline.  The biggest growth factor in our denomination – the largest source of new members – is children, and if people are having fewer of them, our churches are going to get smaller.

I’d like to say that it’s interesting reading but it really isn’t.  I also don’t care for the implicit premises – that our denomination (or any particular denomination or polity, for that matter) should be able to determine a way to continue thriving indefinitely.  Recommending that people have more kids may be meritorious on a variety of levels, but if it is being recommended as a way to maintain congregations and our synodical polity, then it seems ultimately very self-serving.

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