I am commenting on the November Reporter story about Synod statistical information for 2006.
Your data on congregations’ membership and giving are reported with a deceptive precision and conclusions. Given the limited number of congregations reporting, what is the difference in accuracy between “2,417,999” in the story and my suggestion of reporting “close to two-and-a-half million,” or at least reporting two digits of precision by saying just 2.4 million to show limited accuracy?
Certainly the decreases in membership that you report are meaningless, since they are so small relative to the total membership. It would be better to report that given the small number of congregations reporting, membership is probably about the same as last year’s report. The same problems exist for the accuracy and precision of all of your other reported membership data.
Surely your data are biased, since it is likely that congregations with the worst performance would be less likely to report. You should sample those that didn’t reply to determine this. A statistically valid survey using an ample sample should be done, and would be far more valuable.
Donn B. Parker
Los Altos, Calif.
Dr. John O’Hara, senior research analyst with the Synod’s Research Services Department, responded to Donn Parker’s concerns as follows:
“All 6,000-plus [LCMS] congregations are provided parochial-report forms each year, which most (65 percent or more) congregations return completed. Since the parochial-report process is not a ‘survey,’ we do not calculate standard error parameters.
“However, your caution regarding the apparent precision in reporting small numeric changes is well taken, and will be considered in future reports on annual changes based on the parochial-report data.”
After reading the November story about the upcoming multi-ethnic symposium at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, I was saddened that it made no mention of the most forgotten and most maligned ethnic community — the Jewish community.
When will our Synod — in all its theological wisdom — get it? Consider Romans 1:16, which reads, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first the Jew, then for the Gentiles.”
This makes me wonder if consideration of this ethnic community was intentionally omitted, especially since the national office for Lutherans in Jewish Evangelism — an LCMS Recognized Service Organization — is located right in St. Louis. I am a board member for this organization, which is directed by an LCMS Messianic pastor, Rev. Kevin Parviz. It appears that the corrupted Replacement Theology endeared by our Synod has come to full measure.
Shame on National Mission Affiliates.
Birch Run, Mich.
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for length and clarity. — Ed.
Posted Nov. 29, 2007