The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., founded on the teachings of Martin Luther.
The LCMS Today
Today, the LCMS has more than 2.3 million baptized members in some 6,200 congregations and more than 9,000 pastors. Two seminaries and 10 colleges and universities operate under the auspices of the LCMS, and its congregations operate the largest Protestant parochial school system in America. The church broadcasts the saving message of Jesus Christ over KFUO Radio, and it has relationships and active mission work in nearly 90 countries around the world. In the last five years, the LCMS has awarded more than $35 million through more than 900 domestic and international grants for emergency response and disaster response. Today, the LCMS is in full doctrinal fellowship with 35 other confessional Lutheran church bodies worldwide (see more).
The Church’s Reach
The LCMS is known for mass-media outreach through “The Lutheran Hour,” broadcast around the world by Lutheran Hour Ministries; syndicated and streaming programming on KFUO radio; “This Is The Life” dramas on television; and the products of Concordia Publishing House (CPH), the third-largest Protestant, church-owned publisher whose Arch Books children’s series alone has sold more than 60 million copies.
The LCMS works with 300 Recognized Service Organizations (RSOs) to extend its social ministry. The LCMS is also a founding partner of Lutheran Services in America (LSA), a social service organization that serves one in every 50 Americans.
In addition to national and international ministries based at the LCMS International Center in St. Louis, and those emanating from the Synod’s district offices and congregations, the church’s work also is fostered through its auxiliaries, the Lutheran Laymen’s League and Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) .
Leadership and Structure
The members’ responsibility for congregational leadership is a distinctive characteristic of the LCMS. Power is vested in voters’ assemblies, generally comprised of adults of voting age. The Synod is organized into 35 districts across the United States. Synod decision making is given to the delegates at triennial national and district conventions. The franchise is equally divided between lay and pastoral representatives.