The Changing Face of World Lutheranism

ethiopiaFor the past two weeks, an article by Dr. Douglas Rutt, “Martin Luthers’s Platzregen in Action: The Changing Face of Global Christianity” in the Concordia Journal (Summer 2014 pages 225-238) has been featured in “Go!”  Dr. Rutt has described the exponential growth of Christianity in various regions of the world. In today’s post, Dr. Rutt describes how the face of world Lutheranism is changing as Luther’s “passing shower of rain” moves from Europe and North America to other areas of the world.

Dr. Rutt writes,

The demographic shifts in world Christianity in general are also impacting world Lutheranism.  In the year 2010, the Lutheran World Federation reported the nations with the largest number of Lutherans.  As one would expect, the largest three are Germany (12.7 million), the United States (7.4 million) and Sweden (6.7 million). Most would be surprised to learn that the fourth largest Lutheran nation was Indonesia, with over 5.6 million members in twelve different denominations.  … Moreover, the medium age of Christians (twenty-six) in Indonesia (almost all belong to a Lutheran denomination) is slightly younger than the median age of Muslim (twenty-eight).

Since the time of that report, Indonesia has moved into sixth place, according to the Lutheran World Federation statistical report for 2013. Indonesia continued to grow to over 5.81 million total  Lutherans, but has now been surpassed by Ethiopia and Tanzania, both of which have experienced an acceleration of their growth with the Evangelical Lutheran Church Mekane Yesus of Ethiopia reporting over 6.35 million members and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania reporting over 5.82 million.

In the period of the 2013 Lutheran World Federation report Indiareferenced above, India and Ethiopia were shown to be the two nations with the fastest growing Lutheran churches, India adding 1.7 million members and Ethiopia some 600,000.  At the same time, some Lutheran denominations in North America declined precipitously, especially the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which dropped from 4,543,037 members in 2010 to 3,950,924 in 2013.  The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, continues to decline at a rate of 1 to 2 percent per year (24,000 to 48,000) as mentioned above. (p. 230-231)

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