In this month’s Lutheran Witness, we share trends, data and individual “snapshot” stories that, taken together, offer a detailed look at the state of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in 2017.
- From the President: A time to be “Joy:fully Lutheran”
- Where have all the Christians gone? — Heath R. Curtis
- What are they seeking? Pointing millennials to Jesus in a secular age — Chad Kendall
- Snapshot: Harvey — Kevin Armbrust
- Snapshot: First, Knoxville — Melanie Bartholomay
- Snapshot: Ferguson — Rachel Bomberger
- Snapshot: Kenya — Sarah Kanoy
- Snapshot: Trinity, Conklin — Terri Kober and Ruth Mackie
- Snapshot: Seminary — Joshua Vanderhyde and Nathaniel Jensen
- Faces of the LCMS — photo spread by Erik M. Lunsford
- LCMS Disaster Response
- Averages and attendance
- Rostered church workers
- Office of National Mission
- Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty
- Office of International Mission
- Lutheran K–12 schools
- Concordia University System
- LCMS Seminaries
- searching scriptures: Christ the Rock — Joshua P. H. Conradt
From the editor
What exactly is the state of our Synod? As the Rev. Heath Curtis points out (p. 6), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod hasn’t seen a year-to-year gain in member congregations since 2001. Numbers from the Association of Religion Data Archives are even more alarming: By their count (measuring individuals rather than congregations), the LCMS hasn’t experienced a growth year since 1997.
The hard task set before The Lutheran Witness this November is this: to tell the truth about the state of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in 2017 by presenting data from this past year and, where possible, the past 20 years.
When we turn our gaze away from big data trends, however, and examine individual Lutherans and their congregations (as we have tried to do here with a series of “snapshot” stories from around the Synod), the picture begins to look very different. In these stories, we don’t find cause for despair. We see instead “love and faith and service and patient endurance” (REV. 2:19) as God’s people hold fast to Christ crucified in the face of every adversity.
What’s the state of our Synod? I’ll leave that for you to decide. Of this, though, I remain confident: No matter what storms may assail us — be they hurricanes or legal battles or long-term demographic slides — we will continue to weather them, joyfully, together.
Managing Editor, The Lutheran Witness