Having more Kids: The best way to grow the church?

For the longest time, I’ve said the reason I love being a Lutheran is because I love Lutheran theology. Justification, by grace, through faith, is the single most important and greatest gift that any of us can ever receive. I love to preach this teaching because it assures us that what we do or don’t do in this world has no merit on our salvation, because our salvation has already been won for us by Jesus.

A few years before my grandfather passed he told me how we was counseling a 90+ year old-woman who had grown up and been active in the church her entire life. She called on my grandpa, and said, “I’m going to die soon, but how do I know if I’ve done enough good to get into heaven?” What amazing news my Grandpa shared with her! Yet, at the same time, how sad that this woman spent 90+ years of her life and never lived with the certainty of heaven that Christ had won for her! When it’s not about Christ and His work on the cross, we never do know if we’ve been good enough.

The Lutheran doctrine of justification, by grace, through faith, gives us more confidence and comfort and assures us of our eternity with God!

While I love being a part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) denomination because of our doctrine, I’ve also made the claim that I struggle with the practice of the Lutheran church. Why does our denomination struggle with reaching the culture more than most other denominations do today? Why do we have so much fighting within the denomination? Why do so many feel led that we must all worship the exact same way? Why do we lose so many people year after year? Why are we one of the whitest denominations in all of America?

I’ve said before, “I love the doctrine of the LCMS, but I hate the practice.” But can that even be an accurate statement?

I was reminded of what a Seminary professor once said in class. Theology and Practice are not separate. Theology informs practice. Whatever practice you have comes out of your theology. According to that logic, then, if we want to measure how successful our theology is, we would have to measure how successful our practice is.  And to put it frankly, we haven’t been very successful!  Our numbers have been declining for almost 40 years in a row! We have the Good News in Jesus that can give people hope, comfort, and confidence in the midst of a chaotic world, and yet, we are becoming a shadow of what we once were! How is this even possible? We have to ask the hard questions and figure out how we can get ourselves out of this decline.

The leadership in our denomination has gone on record to say the number one way we can fix the growing decline is if young parents would choose to have more kids. I think that’s a terrible answer.

While having and raising kids is certainly not an easy task (it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do), it is also the very safe answer. Having more kids never forces us to take our faith outside of our homes! In this sense, we are simply playing defense while we continue to sit on what we claim to be “the greatest theology in the world.” It’d be like Lebron James, the most gifted athlete in the world, choosing to stop playing basketball because he’s afraid he might get hurt. That’d be ridiculous. That’d be insane. By the way, please come back to Cleveland, Lebron!

Something about our theology has to compel us to become more strategic and passionate about reach the world for Christ. Listen, there are many great pastors, leaders, and even churches in our denomination who already understand this and are doing it right. But we have to take a look at the whole, ask the hard questions, and come up with a different answer than just having more kids!

The number one way to change this world for Jesus is to quit playing defense and start playing offense. Let’s take our theology out into the world. Rather than waiting for them coming to us or waiting to have our homes more full of kids, let’s actually go out, do the hard thing: find and make new disciples.

What are some effective ways to reach people and grow the church today that you can think of? Please share your thoughts below.


8 thoughts on “Having more Kids: The best way to grow the church?

  1. What about Men’s Ministry meeting at someplace other than church, local pub, or small bar and talk, play pool, etc? Open MIC night at small bars, play some contemporary Christian rock (for our musicians) rest of us can support.

  2. Yeah, “having more kids” isn’t mission. It could be PART of the mission if baptizing our kids was coupled with better discipleship to steer them away from the American dream of self-fulfillment (which our preaching of cheap grace only encourages). I think there’s something to be said about the priority of home discipleship though. What other place has the possibility of such long-term, focused discipleship as the home? Raising children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 5:4) is part of fulfilling the mission (baptizing and teaching, Matt. 28), but it is only a part (baptize and teach… ALL nations). I mean, we do believe that, right? Baptizing our kids is more than just a ritual, right? So we can’t say that raising children to be Christians isn’t part of the mission. But we can’t say it’s all of it either.

    Mission isn’t just “reaching the lost” (including our children), it’s discipling them too.

  3. Pastor Zach – Thanks for your thoughtful and genuine post. It is indeed the challenge that we face (as every generation in the Holy Christian Apostolic church has faced, and will). However, your statement “We have to ask the hard questions and figure out how we can get ourselves out of this decline” took me aback. We certainly do exercise our reborn will in lives of obedience. But as I reflect on my 28 years of pastoral ministry, I have to be honest and consider how successful my own efforts to stem the time and reverse the flow have been. Yet the world continues on its self-idolizing course, seemingly as if I had never accomplished anything of lasting spiritual value. Sadly, my own (rather myopic) vision of the lives of my parishioners (let alone of my own life) has suggested a somewhat less than successful “getting us out of the decline”. Many baptisms (youth & adult) and many additions to the church family through catechesis and community involvement would tempt me to self-confidence. Indeed it does, and I must confess that I have taken some pride in those events. But the tide seems to ebb and flow of its own volition, despite my best efforts. “My own efforts” – therein lies the difficulty. As Jesus said “for man it is impossible, but nothing is impossible for God.” Of course, these are my own observations, and as they say in promotional messages “results may vary”. 🙂 God’s blessings on your continuing ministry.

  4. I think a ministry sending a personalized welcome card to people visiting for the first time would be great. We received a card like this from a church once and were very touched and blessed by it. My wife has volunteered to be the card writer if you like the idea.

  5. That’s the Muslims thought process..”.if we can’t convert them…. out breed them”. Seriously? is this a real idea? It sounds a little off balance to me like it was thought up by someone who isn’t even married or has any kids themselves! Im a single mom with 4 children I love them dearly and am so proud of each of them..but I would be lying to say that its not hard work. I don’t think having more kids to boost a churches numbers is the answer….

  6. No, more kids is not the answer. The “church” is in steady decline because of its own peoples’ choice to not follow Christ and follow after the things and desires of this world. Sure, everyone wants heaven. But they don’t want to be obedient to God. Need proof? Look at the Israelites all through the Old Testament. Oh they were faithful for a little while, but got tired of God and godly things and strayed big time! It got so bad that they actually ate pigs, had illicit sex, and even sacrificed babies in and on God’s alter! It was that bad! And then they asked God what did they do to deserve harsh judgment! Really! They went very far from following the Lord. So will we. I hate it, but look at how our own society is degenerating. Yes, this is a depressing outlook, but its happening, and it has been prophecy for nearly 2000 years. Why should I believe its true? Because every other Biblical prophesy has come to pass. The latest being the restoration of Israel in 1948.
    I believe we are in the beginning of the great apostasy or the falling away in spite of the Great Commission:discipline if the nations. What to do about it? Like Jesus said for us to do in Revelation, strengthen the things that remain. Stay faithful. Read our Bibles every day. Pray without ceasing. Abstain from sin. Repent. Preach the word in love and do not condemn the condemned. Love them.

    TAKE JESUS TO THE WORLD. Use our Spirit’s gifts to reach the lost. Go to church. Surround ourselves with Godly things like good movies, praise music, worship songs, hymns. Choose God loving friends, instead of rough party buddies. Turn away from bad language, sexual temptations, and strife. Live for Jesus and actually be true to Him. Live what we say we believe. Then it becomes believable.

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