Rev. Terry K. Dittmer - LCMS Director of Youth Ministry - had these comments to make when a concern was brought to him about the number of youth in the LCMS. (This was part of a larger interview done with The Wittenberg Trail, a networking site for Lutherans) He brings up good points about the issue of the church contracepting itself out of existance, as well as retaining people and sustaining them through their entire life in their faith.
2) Recently I read a statistic that there are "only a little over 100,000 high school youth in the LCMS out of 2.5 million". Why do you think that so few of our high school aged youth are part of the LCMS? Another way of asking that question is, "What is attracting the 100,000 to the LCMS?"
The reason there are so few youth in the LCMS is that we are an aging church and we are not reproducing ourselves. We have had 2.5 million members for the last 30 years. At this time, the average age of an LCMS member is 62. We’re not having children. In that time, our youth population has shifted from 198,000 in 1980 to 102,000 in 2007 based on confirmation statistics. (If it’s any consolation, we aren’t the only church body with this challenge. It’s true of nearly every denomination).
We actually do a good job of retaining our youth. The National Study of Youth and Religion finds that the LCMS is in a category of churches that retains about 86% of its teens through high school. When they graduate, however, in their post-high school years, church connections drop dramatically.