Current statistics offer insights for future planning

The 2022 WELS Statistical Summary and Analysis is now available.

Each year, WELS collects data from all congregations and schools. That data is compiled in a statistical report containing information for every church, circuit, conference, and district. WELS Congregational Services then publishes an annual Statistical Summary & Analysis to help congregations and the synod plan how to best steward the resources God provides.

Some items of note:

  • 2022 marked the largest one-year decline in WELS members in history—2.8 percent, which amounts to about 10,000 members.
  • In 2022 WELS had its largest one-year increase in in-person worship attendance, with almost 9,000 more souls gathering weekly than in 2021, an increase of 8.1 percent.
  • 2022 marked the second time in three years that births in WELS fell below 3,000. In one decade, the birthrate in WELS has been more than cut in half.

As Rev. Jonathan Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services, notes, “The Statistical Summary and Analysis points to opportunities before us. For example, in one decade, the unchurched students enrolled in WELS’ early childhood ministries and Lutheran elementary schools has skyrocketed. It doubled in the elementary schools. And with WELS’ birthrate in decline, there will be room to bring in more unchurched students. Yet, in that same decade, adult confirmations coming out of youth education ministries have remained relatively flat. The prayer is that as we study the harvest strategies of the youth education ministries the Lord seems to be blessing, we might identify tactics that can be used more broadly, so that we might reach more unchurched students and parents for Christ.”

Hein also explains that another opportunity is potentially provided through church consolidations. Those are becoming more common in WELS, as churches seek to improve their “critical mass” by merging. “It will be interesting to watch how the Lord blesses these efforts to increase gospel ministry in future years,” says Hein.

Read the full WELS 2022 Statistical Summary and Analysis online.