Saturday, May 27, 2023

Rearranging people. . .

Garrison Keillor famously told the story of 25 Lutheran pastors who were guests on a pontoon boat.  If you have not heard it, take a few moments to click on the video.  There is a rather important principle in this story, though hardly one Keillor intended.  In the story there is a problem that happens when all the Lutheran pastors head for the same side.

We have all heard the stories of population shifts taking place right now.  There seems to be an exodus from saltwater states (blue ones) into such places as Florida, Texas, Tennessee -- among others.  New York and California seem to be those losing the most.  During the pandemic, South Carolina was one of the fastest-growing states in the nation enjoying those leaving closed down states for one more open. That was entirely due to people moving in from other places, new census estimates show.  The sad reality is that South Carolina was at the same time having a negative birth rate.  That remains the big problem.  We are seeing people move around but many states are in the same predicament as South Carolina -- they have a negative birth rate.  The shocking reality is that every state would be in this same pontoon boat is immigrants and the birth rate of the immigrants were removed from the equation.

We are moving people around but not growing.  Sort of like the growth in evangelical churches that was supposed to be from the unchurched but looks pretty much like Christians moving from one non-denominational church to another -- rearranging people but not really growing.  If you will, the birth rate did not grow but some congregations showed increases while others showed decreases.  It will not work for America any better than it did for churches.  Rearranging people is not the same as growing.  But that is the bill of goods we have been sold.  We do not need babies because we have too many people already.  That does not help the nation and it will not help churches either.  

The other side of the coin is that the population is aging.  Moving people around may help some states but it is not going to help the nation.  We will have to confront the negative birth rate both as a nation and as churches. 

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