By Joe Isenhower Jr.
The total amount of financial offerings that LCMS congregations reported receiving in 2012 rose dramatically — to a record total of $1,423,342,829, which is a 3.4 percent increase (of $47,187,515) compared with the total for 2011. The 2011 total was .03 percent more than the previous year.
A significant part of that increase for 2012 — $39.8 million (or 3.17 percent) from the year before — was for local expenses.
The average amount per communicant member given for all purposes through LCMS congregations in 2012 was $834, an increase of $39 from 2011, when the per-communicant increase from 2010 was $15.
For more information about finances, see LCMS Chief Financial Officer Jerald C. Wulf’s official notice titled “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc. Financial Position of the Synod (FY2013).”
Other dramatic statistical increases in 2012 were reported by congregations for their Sunday schools and other classes, and for “specialized ministries.”
Just as they do every year, congregations reported the financial contributions they received in 2012 — along with membership totals, official acts, information on the types of ministries they conduct and other statistical information — to the LCMS Office of Rosters and Statistics, which compiled the statistics and provided them to Reporter.
One big difference about the statistics for 2012 is that for the first time, congregations reported their information online instead of mailing filled-out paper forms to the Synod office. That electronic reporting sped up the process synodwide by some two months, according to Scott Kostencki, manager of Rosters and Statistics for the LCMS.
Also, compared with 2011 statistics they submitted last year, the number of LCMS congregations that reported their annual statistics for 2012 this year decreased by 976, to 4,313. This means that in 2013, some 70 percent of all LCMS congregations submitted statistical reports. In 2012, 5,289 congregations (or 86 percent of those in the Synod) reported statistical information.
A key factor in that drop in the number of congregations reporting this year is that there was concerted effort for congregations to report last year, because of the need for more accurate membership records on which to base financial assessments for districts in sharing expenses for this year’s Synod convention.
However, this year’s percentage of congregations returning statistical information is far better than the 62.5 percent of LCMS congregations that returned their information in 2010 (when the Synod previously met in convention).
The congregations’ reports for 2012 show a slight (1.57 percentage) loss in overall membership and a decrease in official acts such as baptisms and confirmations.
In total, baptized membership reported for 2012 declined by 35,070 (to 2,196,788) and confirmed membership decreased by 24,013 (to 1,707,509). However, these declines are not as sharp as those reported a year earlier (of 46,728 in baptized membership and 32,502 in confirmed membership). Declines in membership for the Synod have been reported for the past 40-some years.
The average attendance at weekly worship reported by congregations for 2012 was 151, compared with 141 for 2011.
To compile the above-reported statistics on financial contributions, the number of baptized and confirmed members, and the average worship attendance, the Office of Rosters and Statistics each year uses the most recently reported figures, regardless of the year for which they were reported.
Kostencki told Reporter that 91 percent of all LCMS congregations have reported their statistics at least once in the past three years.
The Office of Rosters and Statistics compiled other statistics, which follow, only from the reports that LCMS congregations and districts submitted for 2012.
The districts reported a total of 6,151 LCMS-member congregations (including new church starts) at the end of 2012, compared with 6,145 a year earlier. They also reported that the number of ordained clergymen serving in congregations was up by 75 at the end of 2012, to 5,639. Clergymen serving in other capacities at year’s end totaled 563 (16 fewer than a year earlier) and the number of retired clergymen increased by 10, to 2,746. For the end of 2011, districts reported that the number of retired clergymen had decreased by 192 from 2010.
A “bright spot” in statistics that congregations reported for 2012 — compared with 2011— may be found in the numbers for their Sunday schools and other classes.
As of the end of 2012, congregations reported:
- 5,080 Sunday schools (up 187 from 2011).
- 360,897 enrolled in Sunday schools (up 4,952).
- 1,330 weekday religion classes (up 145).
- 102,556 students in weekday religion classes (up 19,901).
- 19,702 non-members in weekday religion classes (up 762).
- 3,576 vacation Bible schools (up 56).
Concerning all six of those Christian-education-related statistics reported for 2011, their totals had declined from those reported for 2010.
Other increases for 2012 were in the number of “specialized ministries” reported by congregations — including the total number of 46,832 such ministries they conducted (up 1,769 from the previous year).
Those included 20,025 “educational ministries” (up 644 from 2011); 15,062 (up 607) “human-care” efforts; 7,399 (up 338) “media efforts”; and 4,346 (up 180) “special-needs” ministries — for example, among the developmentally disabled, the elderly and armed-forces personnel.
Some 464 (up 21) congregations reported offering 913 (up 4) “specialized worship services” in 2012. They included 310 (up 2) that served language or ethnic needs, and 603 (up 2) for those who are vision- or hearing-impaired.
The numbers of “official acts” in 2013, such as baptisms and confirmations, declined in comparison to those in 2011. In 2012, congregations reported that:
- 24,917 (down by 3,710) children were baptized.
- 18,470 (down 2,413) teenagers were confirmed.
- 14,735 (down 1,035) adults were confirmed.
The number of “professions of faith” (“lapsed” members reinstated into membership) in 2012 decreased by 1,466 (12.63 percent) to 10,138, and the number of “back-door losses” (adults removed from congregations’ rosters for reasons other than death or transfer) decreased by 5,403 (12.5 percent), to 37,806.
Statistical information for 2012 will be included in the 2014 Lutheran Annual, available by year’s end from Concordia Publishing House.
Updated October 12, 2013