Author Topic: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced  (Read 141358 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #825 on: February 10, 2021, 04:40:17 PM »
The issue is never whether the Lord will forsake us. The issue is the hard, provable, earthy facts of life.
In my not so humble opinion, 95 percent of the congregations with fewer than 150 members, worship attendance under 75 (or certainly under 50) not only will not survive, but should not survive.
They do this.
They become "personal chaplaincies" for the remaining members, often members of families exercising extraordinary influence.
They drain the energies of low-paid or first-call pastors or retired pastors who think they are advancing the mission of the Church rather than just keeping some church doors open.
They spend down the assets of reserves and endowments solely for the satisfaction of the few remaining members.
They let neighbors and the neighborhood see a sorry picture of what a church should be.
They never become part of the broader church, either locally or nationally. A contribution to the local food bank, maybe a pittance to synod or district isn't mission or outreach.
"But what about the people there?!" I hear you say.
Send them off to a nearby church.
"But what if there isn't a nearby Lutheran church?!" I hear you say.
So what? We're not the only expression of Gospel fellowship.
"Is it so wrong to keep the doors open for those people?"
It is, unless you are clear about your longer-term objectives. Make it known that the church is in the "closing" mode. Get people ready. Maybe even set a date. Don't just keep sending them first-call or retired pastors so long as they can afford to underpay them.
 
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis. Preaching and presiding for Episcopalians next Sunday.

D. Engebretson

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #826 on: February 10, 2021, 04:44:47 PM »
As we talk about older, aging congregations, we should not forget that the country, as a whole, is aging.  The median age in this country is the highest ever: 38.2.  And as the subtitle in the article linked below states: "Aging Baby Boomers Spurred a 2.5 Year Increase in Just 10 Years." It went from 37.2 in 2010 to 38.2 in 2018.  While many churches wish to cater to the younger crowd, the reality is that there is a growing group of older people the church will also need to minster to as they approach the debilitation of advanced age and pending death. Interesting is that the median age for females is higher than males  - 39.4 vs. 36.8.  And people are living longer as well.  Overall life expectancy has now reached 80.1

ďThe nation is aging ó more than 4 out of every 5 counties were older in 2018 than in 2010. This aging is driven in large part by baby boomers crossing over the 65-year-old mark. Now, half of the U.S. population is over the age of 38.2,Ē said Luke Rogers, the Chief of the Population Estimates Branch at the Census Bureau.

An older population does not mean that the church will not grow - probably the opposite.  With more time on their hands my generation of Baby Boomers might very well take more time to be in God's House. 



https://www.thoughtco.com/u-s-median-age-highest-ever-4068948
« Last Edit: February 10, 2021, 04:47:27 PM by D. Engebretson »
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Dan Fienen

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #827 on: February 10, 2021, 06:24:15 PM »
It has been common knowledge throughout my adult life that population is growing at an unsustainable rate with imminent exhaustion of natural resources and mass famine as food supplies run out. The increase in average age tells a different story.  Actually, those concerned with population growth in the US should restrict immigration since that is where our population growth (such as it is) comes from. We need to keep these demographics in mind as we contemplate our future.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Tom Eckstein

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #828 on: February 10, 2021, 06:40:26 PM »
Pandemic or no pandemic, if the median age of your parish is 76.....you have problems.
The aged church will have a rough time reversing their demographics. It is no secret
that a parish with young families will attract other young families.   The aged church
obviously will have more funerals than infant baptisms.  The pastor becomes a type
of family chaplain who ministers to the elderly and dying.   As each member passes
away, another financial contributor to the parish budget is gone.   

Bottom Line:  The ministry of Word and Sacrament in an aged congregation is a real
challenge.  However, Christ has promised that He will be present among us and will
never leave us or forsake us.

Another challenge we face is that even in congregations with young people (single and families), in some cases it is the OLDER members who are active and also regular and sacrificial givers whereas the young people who do attend (often the contemporary service) are NOT sacrificial givers nor do they necessarily have loyalty to their congregation (that is, when another congregation does a better job appealing to their "felt needs," they move on).  There are exceptions to this, of course, but this does seem to be the case in many situations.   When the older members who are the sacrificial givers die off, will the young and less committed and less loyal members be able to the support the congregation?
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.

PrTim15

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #829 on: February 10, 2021, 07:41:14 PM »
Just curious Tom is this anecdotal where you are? Is this LCMS observation? Did you have some research to support this assertions?

Randy Bosch

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #830 on: February 10, 2021, 08:23:55 PM »
The issue is never whether the Lord will forsake us. The issue is the hard, provable, earthy facts of life.
In my not so humble opinion, 95 percent of the congregations with fewer than 150 members, worship attendance under 75 (or certainly under 50) not only will not survive, but should not survive.
They do this.
They become "personal chaplaincies" for the remaining members, often members of families exercising extraordinary influence.
They drain the energies of low-paid or first-call pastors or retired pastors who think they are advancing the mission of the Church rather than just keeping some church doors open.
They spend down the assets of reserves and endowments solely for the satisfaction of the few remaining members.
They let neighbors and the neighborhood see a sorry picture of what a church should be.
They never become part of the broader church, either locally or nationally. A contribution to the local food bank, maybe a pittance to synod or district isn't mission or outreach.
"But what about the people there?!" I hear you say.
Send them off to a nearby church.
"But what if there isn't a nearby Lutheran church?!" I hear you say.
So what? We're not the only expression of Gospel fellowship.
"Is it so wrong to keep the doors open for those people?"
It is, unless you are clear about your longer-term objectives. Make it known that the church is in the "closing" mode. Get people ready. Maybe even set a date. Don't just keep sending them first-call or retired pastors so long as they can afford to underpay them.

We visited a congregation in 1981 that hadn't had more than around 17 attendees on Sundays for many years.  The formerly beautiful old church was in great disrepair, the bell tower actually a crumbling ruin.  The Pastor had not received a call in many years, and had expected to actually die with the church.  The surrounding community disparaged the failing church and its members were seen as very insular, and widely shunned because they weren't with the contemporary culture and stayed with that pitiful congregation.

The congregation in question was in a town in East Germany (well, the Wall had come down very shortly before, and East Germany was extinguished that Sunday). Members who stayed could not get better, if any jobs; their housing was fixed, they were condemned to immobility in that place.  Children were not greatly evident.

But, they had, because of Christ, persevered through decades of Communist oppression.  The welcome we were given in the garden across the street was full of children, eager to hear words of encouragement (in English, that they had been forbidden to learn) from fellow Christians.  The Communist Mayor and over a hundred folks gathered from far around to fellowship with fellow Christians, with Lutherans.  Someone proclaimed (not theologically correct, perhaps) "We know that God is alive because you are here.

Maybe, just maybe, there are incredible lessons to be learned by the church here from such "failing" places for the future of Christianity, even Lutheranism, in America.  Maybe, just maybe, those people and their congregations that you consign to the dust bin might have the strength of faith, the perseverance in their mission to their community to carry on and by their demonstration of faith in their communities, not the condemnations that you lay on congregations of saints in dire circumstance in this country and else where in the world.

Such places, their pastors and people, may well be the future of Christianity in America - not just in rural or small town areas, but in the big cities, as well.  It is in the big cities, you must be aware, that the church endures the greatest trials and tribulations.

Actually, I'm certain of it.  Learn from the struggling saints and their churches and communities great lessons that apply to all - actually scale upward to all.  If some of them fail, and some will, give them at least the dignity of which they are worthy in their walk of faith. 

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #831 on: February 10, 2021, 08:36:47 PM »
Thank you, Randy. And a HUGE Amen to that. Reminded me of the writing in Treasury for Oct 23 from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

We do not know His plan. We cannot see whether He is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down. It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what has been given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Donít ask for judgments. Donít always be calculating what will happen. Donít always be on the lookout for another refuge. Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace you can live. Christ alone builds. (Treasury, p. 841).

Tom Eckstein

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #832 on: February 10, 2021, 09:32:09 PM »
Just curious Tom is this anecdotal where you are? Is this LCMS observation? Did you have some research to support this assertions?

Hi Tim.  No, I haven't read any official studies on the point I made in my post.  The information from my post comes from fellow pastors (LCMS and other denominations) over the years who informed me that in their congregations it was the older, long term members that supported the congregation financially and stayed when there was conflict or other challenges.  A couple pastors shared with me that they had two Services on Sunday - one contemporary and the other traditional.  The contemporary Service made of 80% of the Sunday attendance and was attended mostly by younger people whereas the traditional Service made up 20% of the Sunday attendance and was attended by older members.  However, the 20% who attended the traditional Service provided over 80% of the offerings for the year.  They were concerned what was going to happened to their congregations when the older members died out.  Again, this information is from fellow pastors I've met over the years and not from any official study.  I'm sure there are exceptions to this.

I know in my own congregation we don't have "contemporary Service" per se, but we do offer traditional and "blended" (however you want to define that).  However, our two Sundays Services and our Wednesday evening Services are always the same each week.  So, each week all the Services are either traditional or "blended" - and so ALL members get exposed to different styles of worship.

Even though our membership is more on the older side, we do have some very active and dedicated young families - but our younger families (with a couple exceptions) do not make a lot of money and so are not able to give much financial support to the congregation.  A big part of our yearly budget comes from the older, long term members.  So I and our leaders are away that in the next few years as our older members die out, this may change the financial situation of our congregation.  Even if we continue to gain younger families (and we seem to get a few each year), if they continue to be "low income" (which many of them are) they simply will not be able to give as much as our older members who have more wealth.  We thank God for any new members that He gives us, but we've been getting more low income individuals and families lately and so this is changing our finances at the congregation.  We currently have two full time staff (I'm the sole pastor and we have a full time deaconess) and a secretary who works 25 hours per week.  But unless things change, we will be able to maintain this only a few more years.  In any case, we continue to do mission and ministry and trust the Lord and we'll deal with the future as it comes.
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #833 on: February 10, 2021, 09:41:18 PM »
Weíve had bad weather the last few weekends, and joke is that the snow and cold prevents everyone except the aged and infirm from attending church.

PrTim15

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #834 on: February 11, 2021, 08:44:31 AM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Dave Benke

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #835 on: February 11, 2021, 08:55:20 AM »
Just curious Tom is this anecdotal where you are? Is this LCMS observation? Did you have some research to support this assertions?

Hi Tim.  No, I haven't read any official studies on the point I made in my post.  The information from my post comes from fellow pastors (LCMS and other denominations) over the years who informed me that in their congregations it was the older, long term members that supported the congregation financially and stayed when there was conflict or other challenges.  A couple pastors shared with me that they had two Services on Sunday - one contemporary and the other traditional.  The contemporary Service made of 80% of the Sunday attendance and was attended mostly by younger people whereas the traditional Service made up 20% of the Sunday attendance and was attended by older members.  However, the 20% who attended the traditional Service provided over 80% of the offerings for the year.  They were concerned what was going to happened to their congregations when the older members died out.  Again, this information is from fellow pastors I've met over the years and not from any official study.  I'm sure there are exceptions to this.

I know in my own congregation we don't have "contemporary Service" per se, but we do offer traditional and "blended" (however you want to define that).  However, our two Sundays Services and our Wednesday evening Services are always the same each week.  So, each week all the Services are either traditional or "blended" - and so ALL members get exposed to different styles of worship.

Even though our membership is more on the older side, we do have some very active and dedicated young families - but our younger families (with a couple exceptions) do not make a lot of money and so are not able to give much financial support to the congregation.  A big part of our yearly budget comes from the older, long term members.  So I and our leaders are away that in the next few years as our older members die out, this may change the financial situation of our congregation.  Even if we continue to gain younger families (and we seem to get a few each year), if they continue to be "low income" (which many of them are) they simply will not be able to give as much as our older members who have more wealth.  We thank God for any new members that He gives us, but we've been getting more low income individuals and families lately and so this is changing our finances at the congregation.  We currently have two full time staff (I'm the sole pastor and we have a full time deaconess) and a secretary who works 25 hours per week.  But unless things change, we will be able to maintain this only a few more years.  In any case, we continue to do mission and ministry and trust the Lord and we'll deal with the future as it comes.

Thanks for this comment.  I don't have a way to compare giving based on worship style.  When we instituted a Spanish language worship many years back, some of the older group were not pleased, because they thought that those folks should just learn English, and that they would not bring any offerings.  So we did the data dig on the money and proved the naysayers wrong on that count.  People who love Lord and Church will commit to the local Body of Christ.

With regard to staffing, finance and congregation "reach", size and future, a question is whether the congregation's plan for outreach and new membership is connected to staff or not.  Those who do that, and have staff responsible for outreach all the way through catechesis and membership, have from my experience better markers on how the congregation's vision for outreach becomes imbedded and not just happenstance.  And really in times of membership decline and aging out, that makes for an excellent conversation.  Tim has apparently been at that for awhile, based on his recent new member and baptism narrative - and in a pandemic.  I'm interested in whether that's true in his congregation.

Finally, the "reach" of a congregation has shifted beyond the community as online resources have taken a larger role.  In our case in Brookyn, we have received a lot of support from non-members or former members living in all quadrants of the country (even SoCal, Tim).  That was not at all in our plan or vision, which has always been very local - our neighborhood.  I'd be interested in whether others have found this to be true in pandemic days.

Dave Benke

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #836 on: February 11, 2021, 09:05:00 AM »
A healthy parish is spiritually alive regardless of the age of the members.  It is able
to have the entire congregation giving the first fruits of their financial income to the Lord.
A healthy parish understands that they are giving their sacrificial offerings to the Lord.
A Christian steward never gives to a church budget, instead he or she gives to the Lord.

Some suburban parishes have an abundance of young white collar members who are generous
with their financial offerings to the Lord.  These congregations have doctors, lawyers, nurses,
engineers, college faculty members and public school teachers.  They also have plumbers,
electricians, carpenters, auto mechanics, salon stylists, etc. who are generous givers.,

« Last Edit: February 11, 2021, 09:19:07 AM by Dave Likeness »

PrTim15

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #837 on: February 11, 2021, 09:07:39 AM »
Interesting post Dave, much as you have, we have been led to a more heterogeneous congregation by our demographics. Our preschool and lower grades in schools are less homogeneous over the last 10 years. We live in an affluent place and that helps financially, plus our Board leadership, as Randy can attest, is honest and robust. Constantly leading w Grace and accountability.

Our mantra of discipleship is Connect/Grow/Share...basically worship, grow in Word and relationships and share Christ. Sure helps people continue to grow in faith.

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #838 on: February 11, 2021, 09:28:48 AM »
Thatís not been my experience Tom. Maybe the congregation I serve is anomaly. We are multi generational, has some serious ups and a few downs. Also a deliberate plan of helping lambs follow Good Shepherd.

Tim, that's good that your younger members give sacrificially and are loyal to the congregation.  That's not always the case, as some pastors I know have shared with me.

As for my congregation, our younger members DO give sacrificially, but they are low income and so just can't give as much as our older more wealthy members.

Also, our demographic is different than that of your congregation.  Jamestown has a population of 15,000 - and that # has been static since I've been here (going on 16 years), but that 15,000 is getting more elderly (as older people from small, rural towns move to Jamestown and as younger people leave to find better employment).  In addition, Jamestown is the "big city" in our area and so we don't have any nearby population centers to draw from (Fargo is 100 miles to the east).  But our LCMS congregation has a great ministry in our little city.  We do our best to be engaged with the community.  One unique challenge is that there are 8 Lutheran churches in our city (4 ELCA; 1 LCMS; 1 Free Lutheran; 1 Lutheran Brethren;  1 CLC) - and two of the ELCA congregations have 5 times our membership but their attendance is less than ours.  So, there's a mission field in Jamestown just among inactive members!
I'm an LCMS Pastor in Jamestown, ND.

PrTim15

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Re: Nominees for Concordia Seminary President Announced
« Reply #839 on: February 11, 2021, 09:43:15 AM »
My wifeís family comes from rural Minnesota and the fading away of family farms the rise of enormous corporate farms and dairies has dramatically changed demographics and economics. They are fortunate to have a state university in the town. Again, thereís a Lutheran Church for about every 200 Lutherans, and nobody works together. Hard work no doubt in ND.