The big churches are faced with the dilemma of dwindling membership numbers. The Evangelical (EV) Church tries to counter this problem with commercial means. Economists recommend marketing strategies. An endeavor doomed to fail.
Inhalt / Content
- 1 Financial straits probably the biggest concern
- 2 Result of the model calculation as the starting point
- 3 The unforeseeable is excluded
- 4 The economist has advice here
- 5 Church shouldn’t just come to terms with it
- 6 Marketing and Events
- 7 The church is already “enthusiastic”.
- 8 The church must maintain contacts
- 9 Long-trodden paths of the Church
- 10 Church long since switched to the other camp
- 11 The solution would be so simple
- 12 “The only thing missing is faith”
- 13 The rest should come out too
Financial straits probably the biggest concern
After the record number of people leaving the Catholic and Evangelical Church in Germany in 2022, those responsible in the institution, which still calls itself Protestant, are racking their brains as to how the mass exodus can be countered effectively. Here, however, the focus is not on people’s salvation, but on the probable development with regard to the economic situation. If former church members have fled, then they no longer pay church taxes. It is true that church tax revenue increased in 2022 despite the massive emigration, but this calculation does not add up in the long term.
Result of the model calculation as the starting point
In view of the threat of financial consumption, the umbrella organization of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) and the Catholic camp, the Association of German Diocese (VDD), reached into their respective coffers and funded a study on the possible development of the economic situation of both churches up to the year 2060 In other words, a model calculation, as is now being done in other areas under the banner of science. What would happen if this or that were the way you imagine it. If the result is not acceptable, you simply adjust your own assumptions and adjust the parameters until the result is within a window that you have also determined yourself. This is then simply declared as a fact and the desired measures can be declared as an absolute must and without alternative.
The unforeseeable is excluded
Who knows today what the world will look like in 5 years? You only have to go back 5 years and look at the current situation. “Who could have guessed this?” could have been the question asked by the authors of the so-called “Freiburg Study”, which was prepared in 2019, after the “Corona crisis” came to light just a few months later. But you simply model a fictitious situation in the future over several decades and spend a lot of money on it. What is being done here on a large scale is the old woman behind her crystal ball at the fair on a small scale. The authors of the study are well aware of the unpredictability of “surprising changes”, as emerges from the conversation with the EV Church in Württemberg, but they are undeterred.
The economist has advice here
The solution proposed by the “researchers” is as absurd as the “forecast” of the development up to 2060. If it was a larger company in the free economy, then so be it. But these are institutions that claim to convey the gospel, the words of God, for the salvation of mankind. Nevertheless, attempts are being made to counteract the decline in members at the level of business administration. Not even the village baker would come up with this idea, who foisted his customers with cleaning sponges instead of bread rolls and was surprised at the lack of customers. This baker quickly gets back to the product the customers actually came in for.
Church shouldn’t just come to terms with it
In the case of the evangelical church, however, the strategy for acquiring additional “customers” must be different from the simple solution offered by the baker. The co-author of the commissioned study, economist Fabian Peters, appeals to the church not to just put up with the dwindling membership. In a conversation with the Evangelical Church of Württemberg, the economist pointed out ways in which the church could prevent the knowledge gained from the model calculation. After all, the study results show a reduction in members by 50 percent. But now there is talk of a “corona kink” and the surprisingly high number of exits afterwards. “Who could have guessed this?” But one is undeterred and still has the year 2060 in view, after all the churches also made a financial effort for this result.
Marketing and Events
One parameter set for the study is the assumption that people’s attitudes toward the church changed little over the coming decades. The measures proposed by the economist to win more – you could almost call it that – “church customers” are therefore more in the nature of marketing ideas than the task assigned to themselves by the churches to take care of the salvation of the people. The economist suggests inviting more people to membership and baptism. As if people had an urgent desire to join the Church but were just waiting to be approached. The offer just has to fit. “Many good ideas” such as a greeting card for the birth and offers for baptisms in the outdoor pool were part of it. So like a flyer from the baker: “Whoever enters the shop gets an extra roll”.
The church is already “enthusiastic”.
As the economist mentioned in the conversation, the churches are already carrying out such campaigns. In fact, churches in Berlin, for example, offer a “pop-up baptism“. The baptism “in passing”. The evangelical churches also held open-air baptisms and even a baptism ceremony in the TV tower in Stuttgart. So there is no shortage of baptismal events. Except that these events all have a “popcorn character“. The economist sees great potential, especially in new births. After all, the proportion of parents who do not register their newborn children for baptism is around 20 percent.
The church must maintain contacts
The church is also called upon to maintain contact with the confirmands. Statistics show that the willingness to leave is greatest in the area of 30 years of age. The statistics also say that the general break in contact between the church and the member usually happens immediately after the confirmation. This is where the church must start by “professionally and passionately looking for contact areas with those church members,” according to the economist. This can happen at baptisms, confirmations, communions, weddings and funerals as well as in religious education, at school services and in church day care centers and in hospitals.
Long-trodden paths of the Church
One has the impression that those responsible for the churches are standing helplessly in the forest and cannot explain why people are fleeing in this way, even though the offer is so diverse and, above all, colourful. One only needs to think back to one’s own confirmation class and review what was actually taught by these churches during this time. As early as the early 1980s, the gospel was on the fringes and people focused on drawing trees to see self-confidence. You hummed any songs and were asked to imagine a fantasy world in the time of the dinosaurs while listening to futuristic music. During this imagination one should walk around these dinosaurs, look at them and touch them.
Today, the Evangelical Church in Hanover, via the Religious Education Institute Loccum (RPI), organizes trips to Buddhist institutions for children and young people in order to gain “interreligious experience” and thus promote the development of their ““religious identity“.
Church long since switched to the other camp
All of this has absolutely nothing to do with the gospel message. These churches have long since moved into the realms of Roman Catholic dogma. Imagination, adoption of oriental meditation techniques and the mixing of rites and practices of other religions are rooted in the ideology of Ignatius Loyola and the ecumenical aspirations of the Church of Rome, but not in the written Word of God. By far the most people in the evangelical churches have anything to do with the gospel and they don’t believe what is mentioned about it. One becomes a baker, the other an architect and another becomes a pastor. A shameful career choice, “you just come into contact with people”. But there is not a grain of faith, let alone a conviction of the truth of the gospel.
The solution would be so simple
Business advice and suggestions from marketing experts will not help against the decline in membership in the churches. Decorating the motley excesses with further colorful activities is like pouring oil on the fire. In order to lure people into church, what is needed is not hot days with the offer of entering cool churches, but teaching the gospel exactly as it is written. This also requires believing priests and pastors and not people who simply think it is chic to work for a public corporation.
“The only thing missing is faith”
Just as the baker gets his house full again when he sells real bread rolls made according to the original recipe, the houses of the churches will also fill up again. After they preach only the teachings of the Bible, and only the Bible, from the pulpit, the people come back again.
But this train seems to have already left for the churches. Just as the ancient people of Israel once brought the idol Baal into the synagogues in order to worship him secretly, this “sun god” in his diverse forms has found his way into the Protestant churches today too. The indications of this can no longer be ignored. Strange baptismal sayings and “Culture” clearly indicate that a complete apostasy has already taken place. This was also reflected in the embarrassingly political Church Day in Nuremberg.
The rest should come out too
This “baker” will continue to offer frequently used sponges as fresh rolls. Marketing strategies with offers, no matter how colorful, will not help. These sponges are and will always be rotten and moldy. For the remaining customers, only the healing “escape to the top” remains.
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Revelation 18:2 and 4b
Whatever the church pastors may say – the right thing is in the Bible as well as the final challenge to the people.
Bible verses from King James Version