August 2013 while having a moment when my frustration with all things church consultant-related was especially elevated, I wrote this sarcasm-drenched blog post. I'm still plenty burned out on a lot of the pontification that this entry skewers, but I'm at least at a point where I'm able to filter out--almost immediately, in many cases--the stuff that I find the most unhelpful.
Here it is, the sure-fire way to get more Millennials, GenXers, Baby Boomers, Men, Women, Families, Hipsters, those who have left the church, the "spiritual but not religious," and even maybe some atheists into your church! This is the blog post you've been waiting for! Are you ready? Are you sure you can handle the mind-exploding information I'm about to share? Only if you're completely sure, read on!
Take these simple actions to attract all of these coveted groups (and more! If I included the whole demographic list, there'd be no room for anything else!).
1. Include more liturgy. People are tired of the flashy stuff, the coffee carts, the praise bands. Give them something tied to a more ancient practice.
2. Include less liturgy. People are tired of the same dry routine every week. Spice up what your church offers by including something more flashy, like maybe a coffee cart or a praise band.
3. Really work on theology and Biblical literacy. So many churches don't teach sound principles and doctrine. They emphasize service way too much and harp on social justice without any grounding. People are hungry for good teaching, so make sure you emphasize this.
4. Really work on service and social justice. So many churches put way too much emphasis on right belief and doctrine, but don't do much in terms of helping the poor and striving for justice for those who are disenfranchised. People are hungry to make a difference in their world, so make sure that you're doing something that they can see.
5. Nobody cares that you're part of a denomination. Really, what does it matter that you're UCC, Methodist, Episcopalian? None of these designations matter. What matters is what you're doing inside and outside your walls apart from such things.
6. Really work on your branding. If you're part of a denomination, really strive to convey what that means. That designation can really help you define who you are, in addition to what you're doing inside and outside your walls.
7. Work on your social media presence. Learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other sites. Make them work to your advantage in engaging potential members. Online interaction and competence is very important.
8. Work on your face-to-face hospitality. Learn greeting skills, create welcome packets, and train people to spot and warmly welcome visitors. Make these actions work to your advantage in engaging potential members. Real life interaction and competence is very important.
9. Meet the "spiritual but not religious" where they are. Engage their stories and find out what's meaningful to them as individuals.
10. The "spiritual but not religious" are lazy and self-centered. Try to get it through their heads that community is more important than whatever gooey claptrap makes them feel good.
Or instead of listening to everyone's pontificating, scooping up every new book, sharing every new article, you could just pay attention to your own context, people, and wider community, and do the best you can to engage those around you.