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Age-shift and numerical decline marks 2007 statistical reports

Sunday, September 7, 2008

36 percent of baptized members attended church in 2007 a one percent increase

Statistics from two-thirds of LCC’s 324 congregations indicate a statistical loss of baptized and confirmed membership in 2007. The news of a 3.2 percent drop in the number of baptized members is balanced by an increase in junior and adult confirmations. “It is easy to say this is a trend,” noted LCC president, Rev. Robert Bugbee, “but if you look at the information carefully you find congregations who have removed several hundred members from their rolls this past year.”

The statistics indicated an increase in the number of Sunday schools across Synod, two additional congregations, eight more pastors, and an increase of 10 deacons. Across the country, 36 percent of baptized members attended church, a one percent increase over 2006. Average attendance dropped from 88 in 2006 to 83 in 2007.

“Statistics never tell the whole story,” President Bugbee cautioned. “We know of many congregations who are reaching out to their communities in imaginative ways. They are sowing the seed of the Gospel and the Lord is responsible for the harvest.”

In addition to the statistical analysis, LCC also asked pastors to contribute census data which indicates the age group and sex of members. LCC collected the last census data in 2001. In seven years the number of members below age 44 has dropped from about 57 percent to 52 percent with the 5 percent change showing in those above 45 (47.5 percent). A decrease in members under the age of 15 could reflect the overall lower birthrate in Canada.

The next most significant decline is in those aged 25-44. In 2001, that age group represented almost a quarter of LCC membership. That figure now stands at slightly more than 21 percent. The overall number of male members declined by about 2.5 percent and female members increased from 51.78 percent to 54 percent, the majority (14.41 percent) over 65.

While baby boomers represent about 40 percent of the Canadian population, the same age group represents less than 25 percent of LCC membership. Almost 24 percent of LCC membership is over 65 years old. In 2006, Canada’s over-65 population stood at 13.7 percent.

“Again, while numbers aren't the whole story, they are not unimportant since they represent the immortal souls of people,” President Bugbee said. “When Scripture records 3000 people coming to faith on Pentecost, it seems someone was keeping track!”

The president went on to say, “Our Lord asks us to be faithful, not only in our confession, but also in our proclamation of His Gospel to the unbeliever and to the believer. We can only pray that He will allow us to see the fruits of His Word in our beloved Synod.”

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