Statistical Report

The “Membership Falls Under New President” article in the reporter got me thinking about the LCMS department of rosters and statistics.  It took nine months to figure out the total number of congregations?  Really?  I know the national census takes two years to finish counting, but they are counting to 300 million.  The synod is only counting to 2.3 million.  And to be honest, they are only counting about 2/3 of that because that’s how many congregations return the form.  AND the pastors have done most of the actual counting.  It’s not like the department has to go to each congregation and count with a clicker how many people come in.  That’s what the ushers do.

So, I have a picture in my mind of some 95 year old lady in an office that carefully reads and logs each form in a ledger.  She was Hired by old “CF” himself, and no one has the temerity to tell her that there are better ways.  Also, when President Benken tried it, she slapped his hand with a ruler, so every President since then just leaves her alone.

CPH wanted to do a survey about a year ago.  You know what they did?  They had an online survey, sent me an online reward coupon, which I used online to order a book.  No person ever actually interacted with me in the whole process, and I got $25 out of it.

So, why can’t synod put this online?  Send the form, of course, but include in  it a card with “Your congregation code is…” “Your password is…”, and let pastors enter it online.  Now, there are no transcription errors, the synod can e-mail the report to the districts, where there are also no transcription errors.  No one has had to enter anything anywhere beyond the pastor (or church secretary, for those of you in the big churches).  Of course, there will be a few congregations that will employ the old method.  Enid can keep her job, and at her age, will probably be none the wiser.  Everyone wins.

The synod requires pastors to fill out a PIF form electronically.  CPH has figured out the wonders of the internet, in marketing, sales, and even offers podcasts.  The seminaries (Those out of touch people that need a “personal growth adviser” sent from the apparently still not wired for electricity International Center)  have gone so far online that you can get a decent education from the seminary without ever setting foot on campus.  (A different program from DELTO or SMP, this is just free lectures and papers.)

So, what’s going on at the IC?  And when will be able to do it online, rather than having us lug the old Underwood out of mothballs each year?

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