Sensible, Straight Talk from Fr. Harrison
In years past there has been much hand wringing about the decline of Missouri's membership. In these pages we have often argued the problem is a demographic one. I am gratified to see that we're not the only ones who have noticed. Thank you to Dr. Heidenreich for transcribing the following from Fr. Harrison. - +HRC
There are three things that are really hitting the Missouri Synod as much as anything. We're doing, I mean we're doing better than a lot of churches of course. But we've had a continuous slow decline over the last 50-40 years. I think 30 years ago was the last recorded yearly increase in our membership. Forty years ago, says Larry. That's all right, he'll, as he becomes president and becomes more and more of a fundraiser he'll become less and less of a historian. [Laughter] The biggest challenge we face is the birthrate. The birthrate of the Missouri Synod that is overwhelmingly white, descendent of European people in this synod - the birthrate of our church body has simply followed, mirrored, the broader birthrate of the United States among descendants of northern Europeans. That's a fact. There's hardly a single family out there that you're related to that has more children in the latest generation than it did in the previous generation. Now, do I expect any wholesale turnaround in this phenomenon? No, I don't. There are all kinds of intense pressures upon us. However, I think it's time for us to preach "Be fruitful and multiply." That's what the Bible says. And we ought to encourage young people and families who have the ability to have families. And encourage them. The church needs to be a place... It's no time to despise family ministries. It's no time to despise those kind of diakonic efforts in the church to care for marriages and families, etc. It's time to redouble our efforts in those areas and it's time to speak clearly that it's a good thing to have a large Lutheran orthodox family. If Muslims are having an average of 4.2 children a piece and we're having 2.1 children a piece, I would say God would be really happy if we'd bump it up to at least 4.2 per family. Don't quote me on that. [Laughter]President Matthew Harrison, address at the ACNA-LCMS Open Forum, Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne, Thursday, October 27, 2011.