Will the ELCA be Gone in 30 Years?
The Southwestern Texas Synod published the following recently:
"New projections forecast just 16,000 in worship across the entire ELCA by 2041. Why is this happening and what can be done? According to projections from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Office of Research and Evaluation, the whole denomination will have fewer than 67,000 members in 2050, with fewer than 16,000 in worship on an average Sunday in 2041. That's right: according to current trends, the church will basically cease to exist within the next generation. In some ways, this is old news. Mainline decline has been a reality for over half a century, and the trends are well established. Yet consider how rapidly this future is arriving -- well within most of our lifetimes. The ELCA had over five million members when it was launched in 1988. It has only declined since, and the decline has been accelerating. For all the energy spent on trying to turn things around for the last 40 years, there is little to show. That is because the cultural shifts underpinning this decline are largely beyond our control. To the extent to which we've tried to fix the church, we've failed. I know a lot of really smart, faithful leaders who have poured their lives into this effort. It's not their fault. The forces dismantling the established congregational and denominational system are much bigger. Something deeper is at stake."