Mathew Block, communications director of the Lutheran Church Canada, posts about that article on the millennial generation yearning for liturgy and sacraments and joining “high church” congregations. He asks,
Why don’t more of these young Christians looking for liturgy end up in Lutheran churches? As the article notes, most seem to go Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican.
Now it’s understandable why so many might end up Catholic. Assuming these Evangelicals are looking for a church that takes seriously the history of the Church, then Roman Catholicism is a fairly natural fit: with 67 million Catholics in the USA (about 23.9% of all Americans), they are certainly the most visible church. But why are Anglican and Orthodox churches such a drawing point where Lutherans aren’t? Anglicans and Orthodox Christians make up only 1.5% and 0.4% of all Americans respectively (2.32 million Anglican, and less than 1 million Orthodox). Lutherans, by contrast, more than double Anglicans and Orthodox put together (5.1% of all Americans, or 7.86 million people). Heck, there’s as many confessional Lutherans in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod alone as there are all Anglicans in the United States. So why don’t more Evangelicals-going-liturgical become Lutheran? Could it be that, despite having smaller numbers, Anglicans and the Orthodox have nevertheless presented more coherent denominational identities to the wider public? Have Lutherans been so insular that wider Christendom in North America isn’t clear who we are and what we believe?
If you’re a young Christian who went liturgical, why did you end up where you did? Had you even heard of Lutheranism? Did you (or do you even now) know what Lutherans think?
Now, as I told him in an e-mail exchange, there ARE lots of young evangelicals who have gone Lutheran. Quite a few readers and commenters on this blog fall into that category. We have some in our congregation, and I know of other congregations that consist largely of converts to Lutheranism.
Still, Mr. Block makes a good point. I don’t understand why Lutherans nearly always get overlooked, even though there are lots more of us than there are Anglicans and Orthodox. Some who go in these directions do not realize that they can have sacraments and liturgy without giving up a high view of Scripture and the Gospel in its fullness.
So how do you account for this? Should Lutherans do a better job of getting into the conversations and making people aware of the Lutheran option?