Author Topic: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations  (Read 2279 times)

D. Engebretson

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #30 on: October 30, 2021, 11:29:14 AM »
It undoubtedly deserves it's own thread, but in some ways the issue is tangentially related.  I think that churches on both sides of the theological spectrum have accommodated themselves to the prevailing culture, and to some degree to attract or retain people in their congregations. To greater or lesser degrees we've all done this. One wonders, however, if churches would have gone in certain directions and embraced certain societal movements and changes if they did not feel the pressure of the culture so strongly?  Of course, from some perspectives it will be seen as the church taking seriously changes it ignored or should have examined before.  From the opposite perspective it is seen as the church accommodating and giving in to the seeming trends.  Both sides will claim a serious study of the scripture. And therein lies our impassable divide. The longer I am in the ministry the less I hope to see such a divide ever healed. The approaches are just too different. When your basic approach to scripture is fundamentally different, you are bound to end up in very different trajectories.   
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

peter_speckhard

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2021, 11:32:31 AM »
I don’t care if you call our practice unBiblical. Go ahead. They both can’t possibly be Biblical and God-pleasing. And the fact is, you do approve of marital infidelity— several pastors and bishops in fellowship with you have, with much fanfare and celebration by your church leaders, left marriages and families in order to pursue same-sex relationships and marriages, when if they had pursued such relationships with a person of the opposite sex it would have been called what it was— abandonment and adultery. This flagrant unfaithfulness was justified because of the “orientation” issue: they were living a lie in a marriage as God designed marriage because their deepest erotic desires weren’t satisfiable therein, and one can’t be true to one’s real self in those conditions. The lies by which you live include the idea that a person is defined by his or her erotic attractions and orientation rather than biological sex and that the reality of the attractions affects the morality of the action. You believe a baby in the womb may be killed if it is unwanted, which is identical to the pagan practice of exposing infants, only sanitized for safety and respectability. You bless the idea that “the two become one flesh” can refer to same-sex unions involving whatever physical contortions might be pleasurable. You believe that a man can become a woman and vice versa. The sincere and well-intentioned Pharisees set aside Scripture for the traditions of the elders. You set it aside for modern scholarship, psychology, and sociology. But regardless of what you set it aside for, set it aside you do.

Charles Austin

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2021, 12:17:04 PM »
And I’ll say it again, Peter, and you can call it off topic if you wish.
It is one of the goals of the American Lutheran publicity bureau to foster warm and cooperative relationships among North American Lutherans. You obviously do not believe that this can be done or should be done. And yet here you are, a “official“ as it were, of the ALPB and moderator of one of its projects.
Something is being compromised or rendered inconsistent here, either you or the ALPB or both.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, New York and New Jersey. LCA/LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired in Minneapolis. My only Thanksgiving cooking chore: providing fresh ground, fair trade, bird friendly coffee.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2021, 12:31:07 PM »
And I’ll say it again, Peter, and you can call it off topic if you wish.
It is one of the goals of the American Lutheran publicity bureau to foster warm and cooperative relationships among North American Lutherans. You obviously do not believe that this can be done or should be done. And yet here you are, a “official“ as it were, of the ALPB and moderator of one of its projects.
Something is being compromised or rendered inconsistent here, either you or the ALPB or both.
I have good friends who are ELCA clergy who are also far more liberal than you. We have good discussion quite frequently, and a warm relationship. We simply (mutually) know that we consider the other side misguided in approach and unBiblical in conclusion. The act that it hurts your feelings that anyone would think or say that about you is your problem.

Charles Austin

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #34 on: October 30, 2021, 02:02:21 PM »
Peter:
The (f?)act that it hurts your feelings that anyone would think or say that about you is your problem.

Me:
Lord, have mercy! Do you think my "feelings" are hurt or, if so, that it matters? No. No. And No. That's not where we are here.
What matters is how you regard those of us in the ELCA and the import you place on our differences. You accuse us of working against the Church. Your accusations go far beyond the label of heterodoxy or even heresy. Your assessment is that we have abandoned the faith, and done so - in your opinion - for profane reasons.
How nice that you have "good friends" who are ELCA, although any of us might even say that about atheists or worse. And we're not talking about friendship, we are talking about relations within the Body of Christ.
Your church body has not even denounced us as fervently as you do (although I think many in it, like you, want to).
And within the framework of ALPB, we are supposed to be fostering understanding and cooperation, and perhaps even fellowship somewhere down the line. Your words and attitudes do not fit those efforts one bit. As much as I dislike and (in my heart of hearts sometimes mock) some things within the LCMS, I consider you a valid Lutheran denomination and a full partner in the Church, the Body of Christ. You cannot do that for us.
So I'm sad, not hurt, but sad that your views get strewn around within ALPB circles. Others in your LCMS arenas over the years started their own communications networks to hammer us. I don't like seeing you use ALPB to do so. 
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, New York and New Jersey. LCA/LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired in Minneapolis. My only Thanksgiving cooking chore: providing fresh ground, fair trade, bird friendly coffee.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #35 on: October 30, 2021, 02:11:55 PM »
Take it to the thread that was started for that discussion so that this one could remain on topic.

Dave Benke

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #36 on: October 30, 2021, 05:42:43 PM »
It undoubtedly deserves it's own thread, but in some ways the issue is tangentially related.  I think that churches on both sides of the theological spectrum have accommodated themselves to the prevailing culture, and to some degree to attract or retain people in their congregations. To greater or lesser degrees we've all done this. One wonders, however, if churches would have gone in certain directions and embraced certain societal movements and changes if they did not feel the pressure of the culture so strongly?  Of course, from some perspectives it will be seen as the church taking seriously changes it ignored or should have examined before.  From the opposite perspective it is seen as the church accommodating and giving in to the seeming trends.  Both sides will claim a serious study of the scripture. And therein lies our impassable divide. The longer I am in the ministry the less I hope to see such a divide ever healed. The approaches are just too different. When your basic approach to scripture is fundamentally different, you are bound to end up in very different trajectories.

I think the answer is basically everyone, even the Mennonites (which are in my neighborhood for a long time and whom I know well) are making adjustments to the culture.  And some of it is necessary.  There's a video I just watched with the Lutheran Hour Speaker stating that they, who were the leaders in Christian broadcasting back in the day, undoubtedly got on the internet way too late, and their radio audience is at 2% of the effective rate of Walter A. Maier.  That's more than a tech problem - that's a failure to identify the opportunity in the cultural change to another primary way of communication.  So there's a guy on TikTok who does nothing but read poorly written and badly spelled messages on billboards, tattoos, texts and the like.  He has 225,000 followers.  And the people who beat down fundamentalist Christianity, including especially a guy I know not at all named Kenneth Copeland, have tons of followers.  We - Lutheran Christians - are not influencers in that world.  And - we could be. 

Again, though, it would be a matter of strategy.  Strict apologetics?  Anything goes there is no divine law?  Something in the middle?  Is there a middle? Seems to me more that we're stuck in no-man's land.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2021, 06:29:09 PM »
The young people I have confirmed in recent years will not stay in a church that does not engage modern life, recognize that their gay and lesbian and transgendered friends have faith and want to exercise it. They will have little to do with a church that requires a "creationist" or quasi-fundamentalist view of the origins of life, and they are sexually active and living together prior to marriage.
So what are we to do with these people whom we have brought up, confirmed and who still have the desire to exercise their faith, perhaps not precisely in the ways we taught them?
And those who may seek and find a faith in young adult hood will not have years of Sunday School or worship or Christmas/Easter festivities shaping their understanding of Church.
I'm sorry, Roger Martim, for what you are experiencing.
Some of the most energetic, exciting, hopeful and Gospel-oriented young pastor/priests I know are gay men and women taking "tradition" and the Gospel seriously, but adapting to new understandings and ways of being Christian.
And we will not get the disaffected back into the church if we do not take their own self-understandings seriously. If we say they cannot be gay and married or partnered, then...

Pastor Preus:
…so today the ELCA embraces women's ordination and the GLBTQ agenda in obedience to the demands of the religious culture of our day.

Me:
Can you possibly abandon the canard that what we do in the ELCA is “in obedience to the demands of the culture”?
Go ahead. Say we misuse scripture. Say we misunderstand scripture, but stop saying we do what we do in response to some cultural demands.

It seems that you cannot, Charles.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it’s not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Robert Johnson

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2021, 07:27:31 PM »
The young people I have confirmed in recent years will not stay in a church that does not engage modern life, recognize that their gay and lesbian and transgendered friends have faith and want to exercise it. They will have little to do with a church that requires a "creationist" or quasi-fundamentalist view of the origins of life, and they are sexually active and living together prior to marriage.
So what are we to do with these people whom we have brought up, confirmed and who still have the desire to exercise their faith, perhaps not precisely in the ways we taught them?
And those who may seek and find a faith in young adult hood will not have years of Sunday School or worship or Christmas/Easter festivities shaping their understanding of Church.
I'm sorry, Roger Martim, for what you are experiencing.
Some of the most energetic, exciting, hopeful and Gospel-oriented young pastor/priests I know are gay men and women taking "tradition" and the Gospel seriously, but adapting to new understandings and ways of being Christian.
And we will not get the disaffected back into the church if we do not take their own self-understandings seriously. If we say they cannot be gay and married or partnered, then...

And yet the ELCA is declining at such a rapid pace that its extinction is plausibly in view.

Charles Austin

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2021, 08:10:12 PM »
The LCMS loss of membership, it has been reported here, almost exactly parallels that of the ELCA.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, New York and New Jersey. LCA/LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired in Minneapolis. My only Thanksgiving cooking chore: providing fresh ground, fair trade, bird friendly coffee.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2021, 08:26:09 PM »
The LCMS loss of membership, it has been reported here, almost exactly parallels that of the ELCA.
Which would render immaterial your thoughts on the effects of our teachings on the rate of people leaving. They would do that even if our teachings were like yours.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 09:27:52 PM by peter_speckhard »

Robert Johnson

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Re: Study: Attendance hemorrhaging at small and midsize US congregations
« Reply #41 on: October 30, 2021, 08:49:14 PM »
The LCMS loss of membership, it has been reported here, almost exactly parallels that of the ELCA.

So your “advantage” turns out not to be any advantage at all.