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    Denomination & Faith Movement Discussions - Thread: Lutherans: How can We do Better?

    1. #1
      Confessional Lutheran's Avatar
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      Lutherans: How can We do Better?

      https://medium.com/migration-issues/...m-be8b7a26fd59


      I'm the first person in my family since my 3X great grandmother, Frances Montgomery Steinbrenner ( 1812- 1845) to be a Lutheran and I'm a convert. Nor is that story a unique one to my family. How can we better get the Word and Sacrament out and let people know that we not only exist, but we're available to minister to people's needs? How shall we go out and present people with the love of Christ?

    2. #2
      Josiah's Avatar
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      I wish I knew... I wish anyone knew (lol)....

      I think of two groups: the THIRTY MILLION residents of the USA whom the Catholic Church says have left that denomination but not joined any other.... That's like 8% of the entire population of the country, larger than the two biggest Protestant groups combined. What FEW of those DO connect with some other church, they seem to mostly be the big, "lite" non-denoms that to ME seems like a really bad "fit" and of course any and all Pentecostal groups. To ME, by far the best "fit" would be Lutheran or Orthodox. My LCMS parish is about half ex-Catholic but I don't think that's typical, my Greek Orthodox friend indicated that a FEW but very few ex-Catholics go that way. The big, "no-theology/no-morality" non-denoms and teh Pentecosts get 'em. What are the Lutherans and Orthodox doing wrong? Why aren't WE the receivers? I can theorize but I think there is a HUGE mission field out there that Lutherans are not effectively tapping.

      The other HUGE and fast growing group of course are the post-modern agnostics. ALL Christian groups are trying to reach them but while there are individual successing we obviously are losing the war - just witness everywhere in Europe or right here in California where Christianity has declined so much as to become largely irrelevant. How to much more effectively reach this group? There are a TON of suggestions and approaches, none seem to be working very well....


      Among many I know, Christianity is simply an unknown - off their radar. No negative feelings toward it, just no feelings or opinions at all. Christianity is seen as something that gave grandma a lot of comfort.... Christmas is fun..... but it's just a sleepy, tiny, church on the street corner full of little gray haired widows, minding it's own business - and that's just fine. A bit too conservative when it comes to morals, a bit too quick to rebuke, but basically harmless. Hey, if it floats your boat, it's okay with them as long as you keep those old-fashioned moral ideas and those rebukes to yourself. That's pretty how how they see Christianity.... a rapidly dying hold over from another age, but typically harmless and at times a source of comfort and social life for some. GOD is another subject. They aren't opposed to God (nearly all are agnostics, not atheists - I've actually never met an atheist in person, just 2 or 3 on the internet) but they don't at all connect God with Christianity; they may speak of being "spiritual but not religious." How to reach out to them? I wish I knew....


      I think in the USA anyway, people think there are two "brands" of Christianity: Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism. Those DO tend to be the big churches in their community. The rest are either unknown or off their radar. I remember telling a co-worker (with a Ph.D.) once that I went to a Lutheran church and he asked if there were a lot of white people in my church.... after a few exchanges, he thought the Lutheran church was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King. I think Americans only know of those two options, which may be why a lot of ex-Catholics go to the Evangelical Churches. There are exceptions: Live in Utah and you know about Mormons, live in Minnosota and you know about Lutherans, live in Alabama and you know about Baptists but basically, people think there are only those two options. And they perhaps aren't happy with either.
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

    3. #3
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      I happen to agree with you, @Josiah. There is a huge mission field we don't seem to be tapping very effectively and so we see all kinds of shrinkage in regards to Lutheranism. I guess the fact that our society has become so secular that people don't want to seem " holier than thou" and refuse to discuss matters of faith openly. I also agree with you that people tend to see only two choices ( plus any regional denominations that are common in their area) and they find both choices lacking in spiritual content. How do we get the word out? We do have outreach programs and mission fields. Why aren't we more effective? Do people have a stereotypical view of Lutheranism that only Midwesterners with blue hair and German/ Scandinavian last names are " real" ( whatever that means) Lutherans?

      Well, we are " One, Holy, Christian and Apostolic Church" ( well, we're a portion of it) and that means that our church is universal in scope, that people from all nations are called to the Table. Prayer is powerful, mind and one would hope that such prayer would spur people to be more vocal about their beliefs and more welcoming of those visitors who do wander in on Sunday mornings.

    4. #4
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      Just bumping this up.

    5. #5
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      Lutherans are the "Sleeping Giant". I think we get so content to know the Gospel and think we're doing okay at telling people when they ask but we're afraid to approach them and be like the others who go out knocking on doors and bothering people (yes, it bothers most Americans to have that knock on the door!).

      One of the things I like about some churches is that they advertise every holiday in the newspaper to invite people to come to their church. If they have some event happening for that holiday it helps the curious to attend even more I think...like Stations of the Cross or a Nativity scene. Something that people can come and watch without holding a hand or giving money or making any commitment. That's what modern man prefers...to think that coming to God is his idea
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

    6. #6
      Josiah's Avatar
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      I think a SMALL part of this is that what Lutherans really excel at is theology. And in this modern era of UBER relativism, no one gives a rip about theology (or truth). For those who do, we do well. Sgain, 50% of those in my parish are ex-Catholics nearly all of whom changed BECAUSE of theology, it's just that the percentage of Catholics who give a rip about doctrine is near zero (as in most denominations). I suspect those ex-Catholics who care greatly for history head East, but again, the percentage evidently is close to zero.

      So, what matters is who entertains best and who can best supply personal wants (such as keeping my teens out of trouble, finding a spouse, helping me get a handle on my finances, helping me feel happier).... and those aren't things where Lutherans shine above any other.

      We live in a consumer society, and what Lutherans have to offer more than any other is something the consumers just don't want (with a very few exceptions like me, lol).
      We are justified by works - just not our own.

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    8. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by Lämmchen View Post
      Lutherans are the "Sleeping Giant". I think we get so content to know the Gospel and think we're doing okay at telling people when they ask but we're afraid to approach them and be like the others who go out knocking on doors and bothering people (yes, it bothers most Americans to have that knock on the door!).

      One of the things I like about some churches is that they advertise every holiday in the newspaper to invite people to come to their church. If they have some event happening for that holiday it helps the curious to attend even more I think...like Stations of the Cross or a Nativity scene. Something that people can come and watch without holding a hand or giving money or making any commitment. That's what modern man prefers...to think that coming to God is his idea
      Good point. We also tend to be a little understated when we do have a chance to share the Gospel with others, I think. I don't know if that reticence is a cultural thing, or if a fiery evangelical spirit just wasn't part of the Lutheran paradigm in the face of Reformed Calvinists and Anabaptists on the one hand and the Roman Catholics on the other. The Thirty Years War is over, however and we do share the same right to share our faith as the Catholics and the Baptists have. I just think that with our educated clergy and our missions programs that tend to be rather successful overseas, we could be making more of an impact here, as well.

    9. #8
      Lämmchen's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Confessional Lutheran View Post
      Good point. We also tend to be a little understated when we do have a chance to share the Gospel with others, I think. I don't know if that reticence is a cultural thing, or if a fiery evangelical spirit just wasn't part of the Lutheran paradigm in the face of Reformed Calvinists and Anabaptists on the one hand and the Roman Catholics on the other. The Thirty Years War is over, however and we do share the same right to share our faith as the Catholics and the Baptists have. I just think that with our educated clergy and our missions programs that tend to be rather successful overseas, we could be making more of an impact here, as well.
      For myself, when I've had the chance to talk, for some reason I automatically assume that someone knows something...

      Example: Someone I was training once said he didn't know what Good Friday was. I thought he was joking and I totally missed my opportunity! That will forever be in my mind now.
      "Christianity does not require more work but more trust." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "Bearing fruit does not make you a branch. A branch is a branch because it grows from the vine." Pr. Jonathan Fisk
      "A Christian's life is not defined by what the Christian does. It is defined by Christ and what He has done for us." Pr. Rolf David Preus

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    11. #10
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      It might be interesting to ask the same question in an Anyone But Lutherans format.

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