Is the Synod Better Off?

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As we consider the direction of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, it’s worth keeping in mind some of the statistics below. Here are looks at the number of baptized members, adult confirmands, missionaries, funding and deficit spending. These are numbers reported by the Synod itself over the past decade and are found in board minutes, reports and other officially published materials. We’ll look at what these statistics mean in coming days.

Click here for printable PDF file.

Is the Synod Better Baptized Members

Is the Synod Better Adult Confirmations

Is the Synod Better Missionaries

Is the Synod Better Unrestricted Dollars

Is the Synod Better Missions Funding

Is the Synod Better Unrestricted Deficit Spending

Is the Synod Better You Decide

Click here for printable PDF file.


Is the Synod Better Off? — 55 Comments

  1. I thank the Lord our God for the care and concerns expressed by all the respondents. This demonstrates to me that the Spirit is at work through God’s people.
    While I tend to agree that the statistics are an indication of our failure as a Synod to focus on the task of the church, I hold that our commission is to proclaim the good news, our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us and rose again, so that we might have eternal life here and now and forever. Through the proclamation of the good news in word and sacrament the Spirit empowers God’s people in word and deed to be witnesses to Jesus Christ. We have the promise of our Lord that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church’s witness to him (Mt. 16.18).
    Though the power to accomplish God’s purposes in Christ lie with the Holy Spirit, he uses people through whom he carries out his purposes. I would propose the election of Dr. Matthew Harrison in the department of Lutheran World Relief as the next president of Synod. Blessings to one and all. JKH

  2. In my last blog I failed to mention some suggestion for dealing with our financial woes: 1) abolish all districts and create four regions, the atlantic, east-central, west, central, and the pacific. This move would save millions of dollars given by our people for the proclamation of the good news here and throughout the world; 2) set the salary scale of region and synodical officers on the average of the congregational pastoral office; 3) help God’s people see the connection between faith in Jesus Christ and their stewardship life. Blessings. JKH

  3. In reading through the comments there are some valid questions, concerns and points made. Here are a few things that may help, or may not, that I have observed over the years.

    1. Most people don’t want to know about the types of information presented above. I know not the reason, but I do know I have tried to get pastors and laity interested and have not been successful in getting a positive reaction.

    2. Congregations don’t keep good statistics, and a goodly per percentage don’t report annually to Synod what they have. I recall reading a few years back that about 20% of the congregations dont’ bother to report. That puts a serious challenge to membership numbers. Question: How accurate is the number of your baptized or confirmed members? One thing that is important is the trend and we can agree that is going in the wrong direction.

    3. See page 759 of the 2009 Lutheran Annual. I am sure some of the data for the charts came from this page, or should have. The last grouping on the two decades of change area concerns the dollars contributed. That number has gone up, but is not adjusted for inflation. Thus, nobody gets the real impact without that adjustment.

    4. Continued deficit spending only works if you get to print the money, and then only for a number of years. A corporation, non-profit or not, cannot continue to spend more than it takes in without a financial collapse, unless it has huge reserves. LCMS Inc. doesn’t, and as a non-profit, really can’t.

    5. Synod Inc. does not have a budget in the traditional sense of specific items approved to receive so much in funds, etc. It is basically left to the discresion of the SP, as the BOD doesn’t want to “micro-manage.” This is a total miss-use of the term.

    6. Long term tracking of financial data of Synod Inc. is not possible, basically because the chart of accounts keeps changing. What I mean by that is the sub-accounts in an account keep expanding and contracting so the same expenses are not consistently recorded in the same main account numbers. I have 20 years of financial data to prove this can’t be done. I tried it and it was fruitless. If anybody wants the box of data let me know, otherwise I am about to throw it out as we downsize our storage areas.

    7. Every corporation is required by corporate law to have certain officers charged with the fiduciary responsibility for that corporation. It doesn’t matter if the constitution of the corporation spells this out or not, it is a business requirement and I believe, a legal requirement of the state where incorporated. To allow continued deficit spending in a corporation would be a violation of that fiduciary responsibility. This might be an area for a couple of those legal minds out there to take a look and take action to hold those individuals accountable.

    Bottom line, the available statistics are good for determining trends, but not for absolute numbers. And the trend is really the important thing, I believe.

    Respectfully, Gene White

  4. Folks,
    The people in synod need to know these facts! They are devastating! These facts do not lie! Please, please disseminate these facts throughout the synod.
    Another most telling and distressing fact: 25,000 members have been lost each year since our present president has assumed office!
    It is absolutely essential that this info be shared with not only all the members of synod, BUT ESPECIALLY WITH THE FOUR ELECTED DELEGATES IN EACH ELECTORAL CIRCUIT (PASTOR, LAY, ALTERNATE PASTOR, ALTERNATE LAY) TO THE 2010 HOUSTON CONVENTION!
    Do all you can to find out who the four delegates are and then send this info to them. If we are religiously faithful in sharing this incontrovertible information, it will be of inestimable assistance, I believe, in the election process!

  5. Here are my two pitiful cents worth. You can’t force a heart to be concerned over the lost. Throwing money at cold hearts will not make them fill with passion. If we truly believe that lost people, or those who have not yet heard of their sin problem and Christ’s redemptive power, will suffer eternal damnation and separation from God, then we will relish opportunities to share our faith. Evangelism is an outpouring of caring for others. You can program it to death and still see no results in passion to share. Of all the problems we are experiencing in the LCMS andin deed in the Christian church in America today I believe the worst one is that we have lost sight of the desire to obey God and share His good news with others unreservedly and unashamedly.

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