Letters to the Editor (May 2017)

Membership decline — another aspect

I read with interest the article on LCMS membership decline in the March Reporter. It made an impact on me, since I was ordained in 1971 and this decline has happened on my watch, too!  

I am writing because I think the article and study do not mention another aspect of our reality that is already having an impact in the circuit I serve. I have come to think of it as the “coming train wreck.”

This reality combines the decline in seminary graduates with the aging population of LCMS clergy. I have been told that by 2020, half of all LCMS clergy will be retirement age. 

Congregations are designed to have pastors. As our congregations decline in membership and resources, that becomes more difficult. It appears that the flow of candidates into our colleges and seminaries is dramatically low and has been. It also appears that the feeder system of candidates flowing from effective campus ministry, which was my path, has also narrowed considerably.

I hope the Synod’s leadership will also address this aspect of our present situation.

Rev. Timothy Fangmeier, Davidson, N.C.

Posted April 28, 2017

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One Response to Letters to the Editor (May 2017)

  1. John J Flanagan May 23, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    I believe the problem is that the LCMS needs to focus more on going into the local communities, starting up gospel missions and soup kitchens, handing out tracts, looking for areas where there are a shortage of churches…rural areas, for example, ..and holding church services in rental facilities if necessary. The LCMS needs to put resources into sending itinerant pastors who have no church assignments into prison ministries and jails, hospitals, and so forth. This is the way it was done many times in history. In some respects, denominations die because they are no longer visible, relevant, or active in the population. They grow soft, weak, useless, expecting people to come to them…rather than going to the people in a spirit of servanthood and service. True enough, the population in America seems adrift from decades of humanistic education and immoral values, but societies have always dealt with social issues and popular apathy. The church is more than a building with a steeple or a cross on the roof. It must be embedded in the population to grow. It must first be true to the Gospel and unwavering, and it must endure with or without popular support. The LCMS is not dead yet, but it is growing tired. If we truly believe it is worth the trouble to obey God and prevail in the Great Commission, this synod must gird up for the fight, remembering 2Tim1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Surrendering is not an option. The LCMS must push forward boldly, prayerfully, and with confidence in God. An attitude of defeat ensures a predictable outcome, one none of us want for the synod or the spreading of the Gospel to our friends, neighbors, and fellow sinners. After all, if we are not here to spread the Gospel, than what is our purpose and usefulness to the Lord? It is not about us. It is about Him.

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