Always Declining: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Stillborn Quarter Century of Existence

on August 14, 2013

Optimism literally projected on screen at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) 2013 Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh running from August 12-17, 2013, cannot ultimately hide the membership decline that has accompanied this denomination since its origins in 1987.  Although much heralded 25 years ago as a unification of American Lutherans, the ELCA’s anniversary slogan of “Always Being Made New:  25 Years Together in Christ” on display at Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center rings bitterly ironic in light of ECLA’s dwindling, aging congregants and sinking contributions.  Liberal theology and politics in America’s so-called Mainline Protestant denominations apparently just gets older and older.

ELCA’s slogan, taken from 2 Corinthians 5:17, is present throughout the convention hall, including a slide show highlighting ELCA milestones on a large screen during assembly breaks.  As the ELCA website explains, the denomination resulted from the January 1, 1988, merger of the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America following a 1987 conference in Columbus, Ohio.  ELCA’s founding “was a heady time, producing the successful merger of two-thirds of America’s Lutherans gathered under one denomination,” wrote Pastor Russell E. Saltzman in 2011 at First Things after having broken away from ELCA with other conservative Lutherans to form the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).  “Lutherans had finally achieved part of the dream, all Lutherans in America in one Evangelical Lutheran Church.”

Yet since the launch of ELCA its course has been permanently downward.  The ELCA’s own statistics show that after 5,288,048 Lutherans came together in 1987 to form the denomination, only 4,059,785 remained in ELCA in 2011, the latest year of available data.  In all, this is a “staggering loss of over 1.2 million members, or 23% of their membership,” Rev. Kevin Vogts of the conservative Lutheran lay organization Steadfast Lutherans notes.  The number of ELCA congregations has also dropped from 11,138 at the 1987 founding to 9,638 in 2911, a loss of about 13%.  “As they ‘celebrate’ this year the 25th anniversary of the ELCA,” Vogts observes, “the fact is that during that time they have lost more members and congregations than make up many entire denominations!”

Almost every year of ELCA’s existence has witnessed membership loss, particularly the 270,349 and 212,903 leaving in the succeeding years 2010-2011.  The loss of each of these two years averaged more than five percent of ELCA’s total membership.  This followed the 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions to allow individual congregations “to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships” and for individuals in such relationships to serve as ELCA leaders.  Only the years 1990 and 1991 ever showed any ELCA membership growth of 1,941 and 4,438 congregants, respectively.

Such membership losses have financial consequences.  Vogts calculates that national ELCA donations in 2008 were $88 million, but dropped to $40 million in 2011.  Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, the ELCA’s largest, announced in 2012 a $6 million operating deficit on a $27 million budget.  Reportedly one couple had given $1 million annually to the seminary but stopped after ELCA’s pro-gay decisions.  Luther Seminary had to cancel programs and lay off a third of its staff as a result.

By comparison, the conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) counted 2,278,586 members in 2010.  The equally conservative Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) claims over 300,000 communicants. The NALC now claims 130,000 members, mostly disaffected ELCA members like Saltzman.  Another destination for disappointed ELCA members is the Lutheran Congregations in Missions for Christ (LCMC), now listing 808 congregations, more than double NALC’s 345 congregations.

ELCA’s remaining members are getting older as well.  An October 2008 ELCA study found that the median age of denomination churchgoers between the ages of 15 and 99 was 58, while the general American population had a median of 39.  Assembly visitors in Pittsburgh might not know this, given that 110 or roughly one-in-nine voting members were born after 1988.  Yet the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 2011 establish in 6.02.A09 a “goal of this church” of “at least 10 percent of the voting members of the Churchwide Assembly, Church Council, and churchwide boards and committees” being “youth” under 18 and “young adults” between 18 and 30.

ELCA’s stance on homosexuality and other matters has had international effects.  Vogts notes that “many of the largest and fastest-growing Lutheran church bodies in the world” have cut “historic ties” to ELCA” in favor of LCMS.  These include Ethiopia’s six million Lutherans, “nearly as many as all American Lutheran church bodies combined,” the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia, Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Lutheran Church of Togo.  The “center of world Lutheranism is shifting from Europe and America to Africa, Asia, and South America, and the LCMS is becoming the theological leader of these growing Lutheran church bodies.”  ELCA, meanwhile, “is becoming increasingly isolated in world Lutheranism.”

ELCA is thus repeating the ecumenical pattern of churches that abandon Biblical standards already manifested by the Episcopal Church’s 23% loss in average Sunday attendance across the decade 2000-2010.  Apparently, devote Christians do indeed heed Romans 12:2’s admonition to “be not conformed to this world.”  After all, it is obedience to eternal standards and not the latest societal mood that is truly novel.  Wherever churches no longer preserve the “salt” and “light” of the Bible and natural law, the faithful vote with their feet and finances.

  1. Comment by cynthia curran on August 14, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I went to a ELCA Church when I lived in Orange County California in some ways I like it better than Megachurch Calvary Chapel it was easier to get to know people. Also, since it was in Orange County they were a lot of conservatives and some moderates not all liberals.

  2. Comment by J in IN on August 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Not sure of the point of this article. You cite the LCMS membership but left out that even in their news release that their number was a decline over 2010. Not to mention that this represents the “continuing [of] a 30-plus-year trend in declining church membership experienced by most Protestant denominations.”

  3. Comment by Andrew E. Harrod on August 22, 2013 at 12:24 am

    There has been a general decline, but the liberal denominations like the ELCA are simply in free fall.

  4. Comment by Tim Larson on March 8, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Young people are tired of liberal and conservative church hypocrisy. Yes, the ELCA lost a bunch of people recently which was tragic — but at least those who have stayed are committed to the ELCA’s emphasis and accent on grace — which draws such ire and criticism from “conservatives”. It is what it is.

  5. Comment by George Waite on August 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Just like the Grange and the Elks; you’re there because you want to be, not because your family was in it.
    Of course, that’s a much smaller and older and less influential group…..

  6. Comment by Jeffrey Michaels on August 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Yes, they are tired of the liberal and conservative church hypocrisy, but they sure won’t be going toward any views that seem unnaturally restrictive and sectarian as well. BTW, there those of us in the ELCA who still hold to a conservative view.

  7. Comment by Anya on August 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Great article, I have noticed that bible believing churches have increased in numbers and membership, but I didn’t know that the liberal churches that always follows the latest cultural fads had lost that many members.

  8. Comment by Adrian Croft on August 14, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I was a Methodist when they merged with the much smaller EUB (Evangelical United Brethren) in 1968. It didn’t take long before the former EUB members had second thoughts, as the UM began its membership slide in that decade and hasn’t let up since. Denominations don’t merge when they’re strong, only when they’re weak.

  9. Comment by Ted Martin on June 28, 2017 at 11:32 am

    An old expression “when two churches “unite” it really means there are THREE now. Another point is, many folk are just tired of ALL organized denominations.

  10. Comment by Chuck Braun on August 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Perhaps the ELCA will finally consummate the relationship with The Episcopal Church it so desires, and we will soon see The Episcopal Lutheran Church in America. I’m thinking a year or two. In a decade, the UCC (spiritual descendants of the Pilgrims), the PCUSA, the UMC and ABC will merge into the Unitarian Universalism which is the current doctrine of their leaders, basically walking away from Jesus Christ. I used to jokingly call mainline Protestant churches “Antichrist churches”. It’s not funny anymore…

  11. Comment by Edwin Charles on December 1, 2013 at 11:35 am

    The only exception here is that the Methodists are smart enough not to “officially” embrace the homosexual agenda because they know their membership also would go into free fall. Much worse than it already is.

  12. Comment by George Waite on August 9, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    It has nothing to do with intelligence; it has to do with the votes from much more sexually conservative churches in the 3rd world which get to vote against gay marriage and the ordination of the openly gay-they’re part of the UMC.
    If the UMC were only US churches, it would have voted for gay marriage/ordination, same as the Lutherans and Presbyterians.

  13. Comment by James Young on June 26, 2014 at 8:24 am

    I’ve found Unitarianism fascinating (I grew up in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where Joseph Priestley settled), but mysterious. When I went to their website, and clicked on the link for “What We Believe,” the page wouldn’t load….

  14. Comment by Sasha Bill Kwapinski on August 17, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    When a denomination caves in to the prevailing “politically correct” culture, that is an example of salt which has lost its savor. It gets trampled under the foot of men – or if people don’t literally trample it under foot, they certainly vote with their feet! I graduated from California Lutheran College (now California Lutheran University) in 1969. It was interesting to see the beginnings of the liberal, politically correct shift, during that time period. Now, over 40 years later, we are seeing the results — politically correct, morally bankrupt, theologically irrelevant, and numerically shrinking.

  15. Comment by Mary White on November 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Zzzzzzzzz…. No wonder church attendance is in decline

  16. Comment by Steven on November 25, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Conservatives accuse liberals of being “worldly,” when clearly this bickering is more worldly than any of the “liberalism” this site is referring to.

    How can a Christian truly be a Christian when s/he is gloating about a church losing members. This is not some game of winners.

    Most of the losses are not conservatives leaving the congregations. It is Christians dying off and Generation Y being “non-religious/none.” How do we reach those people? I assure you, continuing on bickering in this childish way will not bring them to Christ. It will drive them out more.

    Doctrinal issues, yes, are perfectly fine to debate about until the cows come home. But this church bashing by LCMS and other more conservative bodies is a SIN. Period. The LORD does not call us to do that to one another. Point out doctrinal mistakes and differences, but don’t brag about a church losing people. You do not know why each of those individual hearts and minds is leaving any particular church — for all you know, they are leaving because they lost faith in God. That’s not something to praise and gloat about!

  17. Comment by Benjamin Styles on November 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    No one here is “gloating,” this is a warning.

  18. Comment by BPatMann on December 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    We do not gloat over this tragedy. I am a former Lutheran who did not leave the Lutheran church — it left me. I am now a member of a rapidly growing nondenominational church to which I look forward going every Sunday.

  19. Comment by David on August 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Well said. After much deliberation, I also came to the conclusion that I didn’t leave my church; instead the ELCA left me. Not knowing where to go, I joined the ranks of the unchurched. Being a life long Lutheran, I wished to remain within Lutheranism and found a new church home in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. People of liberal or conservative political views still apply their Christian faith together within the LCMS because politics isn’t preached from the pulpit. This is reminiscent of the defunct American Lutheran Church prior to the late 1960’s.

  20. Comment by Jeffrey Michaels on August 2, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    The LCMS is also in decline. And just for the record, I left one of those large multi-campus, big screen TV seeker non-denom churches, to become Lutheran. I was sick of their lack of depth in the scriptures and lack of sacraments.

  21. Comment by Richard on December 7, 2013 at 9:20 am

    They are leaving in droves because the ELCA church leaders are going against God’s word. Something they defended at one point in their lives. If God has declared what is good and what is not good, then who is man that we should change it? Serve God and obey God and love one another. Quit trying to be all inclusive and tell others that there is no such thing as sin when clearly there is.

  22. Comment by Pat Cotsworth on May 8, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    All churches are declining, no matter how you see yourself, even your conservative Bible Believing Orthodox Apostolic Holy Ghoster churches – The fastest growing religious category is “NONE”

  23. Comment by Benjamin Styles on November 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    You, my friend, need to do more ‘research’ than swallow what Time magazine says. Every major polling organization from Gallup to the government says that Pentecostal and Fundamentalist churches are seeing net gains. Also, there are alternate churches that are growing like the home church movement. And as for the NONES, they aren’t even unified – they are simply people who don’t self identify as a particular church. A government survey showed that a high percentage of Nones may still attend a church on a regular to semi-regular interval, but for various reasons do not self-identify as an individual!

  24. Comment by Steve Carmeli on March 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    I am one of your “Nones.” I came to Christ at Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel (in an odd way). But as they grew in pro-war, hateful, money-grubbing sentimentalities that were void of concern for the poor, I felt naturally alienated. I’ve never found a church / denomination that merges the closeness of pietism with sensitivity to world issues. Therefore, my allegiance to the church of none.

  25. Comment by Dave olson on May 27, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Check out the Evangelical Covenant Church.

  26. Comment by Eric Rachut on May 17, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    The Evangelical Covenant Church gave up the Real Presence. That’s what pietism does – guts a church of its theology. Evangelical Covenant – ex-Lutheran.

  27. Comment by BPatMann on December 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Nondenominational are growing rapidly, and not just as a result of the refugees from the mainline protestant churches.

  28. Comment by gary ockunzzi on June 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    There are very few amateur religious people that I know that are very good evangelists. I think I’ve met 2, in all of the year’s that I’ve been a Christian. There are some very, very nice people that I’ve met in the Lutheran Church (even though I am not a Lutheran). I think that they would do much better if they kept the name “Evangelical” off of their church titles. This may seem like a small thing but I don’t think it is. Let the far right fundamentalists burn and abuse with evangelical “turn or burn’ or legalistic tactics, then a conservative church like the Lutheran Church can instruct them in conservative but solid Bible study.

  29. Comment by Joseph W Nixon on September 29, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I just don’t meet all that many young people (35 & under) with strong denominational ties or sectarian interest in Protestantism.

    The ELCA is past replacement fertility among its congregants and losing disaffected members and congregations to splinter groups, sure.

    Will those splinter groups have enough kids and converts and Lutheran grandchildren to sustain or grow? Check back in ten years but I’d wager the grown children will be Evangelicals, Catholic convert spouses and non-churchgoers…

    The commitment to crafting “Orthodox Lutheranism” will, I wager, remain the domain of Baby Boomers.

    Millennials just can’t seem to be drawn into the sectarian confessional milieu.

  30. Comment by Alfred Puglisi on October 21, 2014 at 12:43 am

    So has everyone else, inclujding Fundamentalist churches with the exception of mega churches which are no more than social clubs. The Millenials, while many are still believers, want nothing to do with church. Can you blame them. I suggest reading the book unChristian by two fundamentalist Christians that deals exactly with this problem.

  31. Comment by Alfred Puglisi on October 21, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Some of you need to read 1 Cor:1:12

  32. Comment by Dwayne Wayne on December 12, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Wels used to be nearly 500,000 and now it’s 385,000….. so it’s bad all over for traditional denominations.

  33. Comment by Eric Rachut on May 17, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    WELS slid into pietism and political correctness (1986 hymnal with feminized hymns). The ELS refused to accept that hymnal and developed their own but, sadly, caved in to their partner in every other way.

  34. Comment by BPatMann on December 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    When a denomination starts ignoring significant portions of the Bible, or reinterprets them in a way that is inconsistent with the rest of the Bible, the parishioners ask themselves “What’s the point.” When that happens, the denomination fades away.

  35. Comment by MikeS on January 13, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Exactly. I regard mainline protestant worship as basically a drag show. Fully acculturated people who dislike the full sweep of orthodox Christian teaching, parading around in pretty robes and banners, ‘presenting’ as orthodox Christian but they really are not. Why would a sensible person spend his precious time and money supporting such a show? Might as well stay home and read or sleep or else catch up on work.

  36. Comment by Jack on February 6, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Magisterial Protestantism(Lutheran, Anglican and Reformed) has run its course. It was the fruit of the Renaissance and within a century of its founding was starting to deteriorate into non belief. It spawned many descendant groups and cults like Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, Christian Science, New Apostolic church, Unity, Religious Science, and Universalism, etc.

    On the surface it was political and to a lesser degree theological. But deep down it was the beginning of Modernism. Historic Christianity in 100 years will again be solely Catholic and Orthodox. Magisterial Protestantism will be dead. The remaining groups will be Prosperity Cults and the above mentioned Cults such as SDA and Mormonism.

  37. Comment by nnamelet on September 12, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Whew. Jack, I think you need to read some of Martin Luther’s sermons and house postils.

  38. Comment by Rob on October 3, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Right on the money Jack. There is a crises of authority within Protestantism that is now palpable. The pope warned Luther that if he published his Bible in German, then he would let the proverbial cat out of the bag, thus allowing any man to be his own authority in interpreting Scripture. This is so evident now-a-days when one turns on the TV and sees some boob with a Bible standing there interpreting Scripture and claiming the most outrageous things. On what authority? Their own. This is why we have tens of thousands of denominations in this land. In the end, nature abhors a vacuum. So when we stand up and say, “Sola Scriptura!” Our voice is lost in the vacuum of authority.

  39. Comment by dogged on March 18, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Your dispatch prods me to add my own testimony:
    Long before the hip leadership of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) took upon themselves to redefine orthodox sexual mores, I departed the ELCA , the church body that had baptized, confirmed and frankly imparted me with a [small c] catholic understanding of the Christian faith. Since the swinging 60s the once Christ-centered ELCA marketed itself as a prophetic sounding board for the leftist policies of the Democrat Party. Nuclear disarmaments & freezes, women’s “reproductive health” issues, racial & ethnic quotas, race card-mania, a zealous LGBT advocacy, open borders, redistribution of wealth —-You name it and they were out there painting a pious veneer onto some very thorny secular movements. Jesus morphed into some sort of barefoot Marxist hawking “social justice”.
    But the membership of Liberal Protestant bodies is in a stampede—right out the door. Bad karma perhaps?

  40. Comment by nnamelet on September 12, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Wonderfully concise list for mainstream religious correctness movement

  41. Comment by A former UU on March 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I raised Roman Catholic, and I was always uncomfortable with the politics of it. I tried the Unitarians, and experienced the same thing – politics with them. And as a 55 year old man, I can say that the younger people are right, and are increasingly leaving a structure that seems always concerned about the issue behind politics – power. And naturally, that other issue with power – money. People are leaving church (and religion) because those things are the real ‘god’ of the church. I increasingly find myself clear that all religions today will always be about politics and money. As a direct result; I see no reason to be a member of any church anymore. All are pointless, and the discussions about trends in membership lead to the simple fact – life can be lived without the church needing to have you in ‘submission’ to it.

    Religion is worthless.

  42. Comment by Frank on October 14, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Without God, as they point out in Alcoholics Anonymous, humans and their “wisdom” take over. Happy about those results?

  43. Comment by MikeS on January 13, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Religious organizations are primarily interested in the health of the organization and not about the individual. They value you to the extent that you will be a willing & joyful cog in the machine, giving time and money for the greater glory of the Organization. I’m close to 60 and am just now realizing this, I’m a little slow.

  44. Comment by nubwaxer on May 21, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    let’s get back to true christianity that despises the poor and worships wealth. if you continually kick people while they’re down they’ll want to pull themselves up to believe they deserve what they have.

  45. Comment by David Gilbertson on June 26, 2015 at 2:42 am

    So sad to see this shift in values and away from Biblical teachings that has isolated the ELCA, once the darling of Lutheran Christ-followers around the world. My grandparents were proud, conservative Norwegian Lutherans in the Chicago area who adopted and raised three wonderful children in the church. One of those was my Mom, a Christ-loving woman who passed that love on to me. After all, “We love because He first loved us.”

    My mother and father were married in that same church. I remember many an Easter Sunday spent singing “This is the Feast of Victory for our God!” after a trip from Wisconsin to see my Grandparents and their enthusiastic friends meeting in God’s house.

    I learned this very evening that the church had been disbanded last September due to declining membership. And that this past January, Faith Lutheran Church (ELCA) “was sold and reportedly will be used as a mosque.

    The new owner is the North American Foundation of Islamic Services, according to listing agent Chad Bermingham of Cresa real estate company.”

    It’s clear that trying to appease the enemy does not work to strengthen the church. But then, isn’t that exactly what the Bible teaches?
    Quotes taken from the article below.

  46. Comment by Pastor Matthew on January 9, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I suspect that if the ELCA voted to convert to Islam, the same members who stayed would still be there. They are more loyal to their institution and their financial contributions to it, more than to Jesus Christ, as He is revealed in Scripture. When a church cuts itself from the Vine, it will and should die.

  47. Comment by Requiescat in Pace on May 24, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    At at earlier point in my life, I would have classified your comment as pure satire. But now I’m not so sure…

  48. Comment by former elca on May 24, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    I haven’t noticed any discussion here on the relationship between ordination of women and the decline of these churches. There is such a relationship. You hate to be against the ordination of women because that just isn’t PC now. However maybe the feminization of the church is part of the problem. The churches gaining in membership do not ordain women.

  49. Comment by former elca on May 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Apparently the moderators do not want the relationship of church decline and womens ordination brought up. That just isnt PC. Yet when considering the characteristics of the churches with growth and those in decline, womens ordination seems to be a factor during the period of decline.

  50. Comment by Tom Watts on August 25, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    I too left the ELCA about four years ago because of their leftist liberal political entrenchment. I now belong to a Missouri Synod church that is the fastest growing congregation in North America. Our young Pastor (32) is a God fearing preacher who is telling us what the Bible says and our small church here in Mount Dora, FL is no longer a “small” church! Our Pastor is teaching us what Jesus taught 2,000 years ago. Refreshing!,,

  51. Comment by David R Justian on August 29, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    Some isolates the ELCA as though the issue of decline is an ELCA issue only. I studied declining congregations of all denominations and faiths (yes, the Buddhists and Synagogues are declining too and the Muslims, except for those serving new immigrants in Dearborn, MI) and its appears that music is irrelevant, as are times of the worship service, community outreach programs, road signs, screens in front of the congregation and so on. I am looking for any congregation in the same location for 10 years that has had increasing attendance for the past 3 years. Know of any? If so, I can isolate the reason and possibly identify what can be duplicated by your congregation. Increasing congregations that are beneficiaries of split or closing congregations, or that have had a new subdivision grow up around the church, or who have a couple of multi-millionaires to help out, or a firebrand pastor don’t count as a reason that can be duplicated by any congregation. Know of a growth church? Please let me know, haven’t found any yet.

  52. Comment by Guenter Apsel on January 4, 2018 at 11:53 am

    500 years after the Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther, I would like to remind everybody of his great discovery , which still is a gift to us: “Freedom” according to Galatian 5, 1! Christianity doesn’t depend on numbers. But on truth. Yes, we need the Lutherans as a rock of this message. And I have the privilege to be a part of that church.

  53. Comment by terry on January 6, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    An insight we seem to miss is that God and church are not the same
    Church was given to serve us by helping us move through it into the presence of God. Church seems to get carried away with its own power, status and riches crashing down tragically on the job. No longer a mere servant. Miltitudws so not know why, but their spiritually smell tells them something is wrong and drift away. Their servant had tries to be their lord and master. In a free world they can and do escape, is my opinion.

  54. Comment by Eric Rachut, M.D. on July 23, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    Why do we apply political terms such as conservative or liberal to this discussion? This implies that it is a matter simply of opinions or “values,” which are relative, and that what counts is size, numbers – in short, selling. The terms should be orthodox or heterodox (or unbelieving). If we cease resisting the will of God, the numbers will take care of themselves.

  55. Comment by LeRoy on August 6, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    I would like a return in the ELCA to confessional Lutheranism. I remember reading an article in the 1960s that the only hope for Protestantism was the Lutheran. Church. Protestants were either churches interested in social issues or fundamentalists. Lutherans were noted for their solid doctrine. Unfortunately the ELCA followed the social gospel.

  56. Comment by Ron T on December 8, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    George Knight, SDA author, wrote that people want a church to stand for something. Commenting on the decline in the ELCA and other mainline churches, he said that mere relevance is the fastest way to irrelevance

  57. Comment by Terry on May 9, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    An entire denomination has grace mixed up with grace through faith.

  58. Comment by Rev. William C. Mack on May 20, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    When you rip out the foundation of the house it falls. The ELCA has become blasphemously heretical. Do they really expect their “house” to stand? Their wanderings from Form Criticism to Post-Modernism and pro-homosexuality have invited demonic movement and the faithful have had enough! God have mercy on them. I am an independent Lutheran pastor (U.L.M.A.). What a blessing! 🙂 Check out our faithful association:

  59. Comment by Don Fredrick on September 20, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    As Jordan Peterson says, the last century was noted for the gulags and Auschwitz. The responsibility for both lies in the voices of people that went silent and permitted these atrocities to happen. I ask, are the same forces now at work in our denominational churches? Are we the responsible complainers now obligated under grace to launch a return of the church to its foundations beyond liberalism and conservatism to get beyond denominationalism to a better understanding and mission of our catholic faith?

  60. Comment by Baron Von Martin on December 6, 2019 at 2:10 am

    Martin Luther used his own nail. Do the same. The church will grow, one nail at a time.

  61. Comment by Kris Baudler on February 7, 2020 at 10:42 am

    “Liberal” and “conservative” are meaningless terms being two sides of the same coin. The issue is rather one of the bondage of the will (which all of the cited American Lutheran groupings are largely clueless about) for the discernment of law and gospel. All we are called to do is preach Christ crucified, the numbers be damned.

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