Dear Congregational Family,

1. Where have all the youth gone? Last week Christianity Today ran an article titled “Only half of kids raised Southern Baptist stay Southern Baptist.” This is rather shocking, because the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is usually considered to be one of the church denominations that has been most successful in the U.S. in keeping their members and reaching others. It has been one of the largest denominations in the U.S. (in 1987, 10% of Americans were SBC; but today only 5% are), but the SBC just revealed that they have been losing over 100,000 members/year for the past decade resulting in an over 1,000,000 membership loss.
There are four main reasons cited as to why church denominations change (addition or subtraction) in size:
a. “Unchurched” people are brought into the church. (conversion/recommitment to Christ)
b. They keep those who are born into the Christian faith, as they grow up and stay in the church.
c. They lose members who leave for a different church or who leave the faith altogether.
d. Members die and are not replaced; therefore, resulting in a net loss.

The SBC concluded that all four are working against them right now, and in the foreseeable future, in that they are suffering in all four of these areas. They are not bringing in “unchurched” people and they are failing to keep their own members (youth especially), and the denomination is rapidly aging.
This is insightful for us at Ruthfred and certainly in our national church denomination (AFLC), as we are struggling in an uphill battle in all four of these aspects as well.

Solutions: This needs to be thoughtfully addressed as these issues are far more complex than they first appear; but in brief, we do need to reach out and engage people more intentionally in spiritual issues. We also need to become intentional in teaching our children the truths of God and helping them grow in faith and to participate in the practices of the faith.

2. Dr. Don Bierle, founder of FaithSearch International will be teaching Sunday School this Sunday! He will also be speaking in the afternoon in the Fellowship Hall after lunch at 12:45pm. He will be speaking about his faith journey from an atheist biology university professor to becoming a devoted follower of Jesus. There will also be a resource table of a number of his books and materials. Plan your schedule now, to be part of these events!

3. Life: Baby “Saybie” at 8.6 ounces is the smallest–ever surviving baby! She was born at only 23 weeks. As our nation continues to struggle with the value of life, it is incredible to witness how little “Saybie” who was born weighing only a little more than half a pound, has now gone home from the hospital as a healthy baby!

God bless you as we continue,

“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God”

Pastor Carlson