Now, on a serious note, there are many small communities and South Dakota really is a place where towns just go out of existence from time to time. We are not denying the potential for small but healthy churches (and that is the defense often mounted by TEC loyalists around here – “Growth isn’t the only measure of success”).
But the numbers from the Diocese are not about small, healthy communities. The numbers show decline – in many cases precipitous. And the historic Reservation Missions are vitually empty save for funerals and drive-by baptisms. We still hear TEC folks from other places boast about how “We have a diocese where over half the members are Native Americans!” Yeah, guess that’s true on paper. But in terms of vital Christian community, well, you really need flesh and blood.
Just for fun, we looked in on Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls, a church teaching the Biblical Gospel and emphasizing prayer and strong lay ministry. Their ASA went from 42 in 2004 to 85 in 2006, and they report that Sundays this year frequently have more than 100 at worship.