The NYT has a piece about churches trying new tactics to attract followers.
Life in Deep Ellum is part of a wave of experimentation around the country by evangelicals to reinvent “church” in an increasingly secular culture, and it comes as the megachurch boom of recent decades, with stadium seating for huge crowds, Jumbotrons and smoke machines, faces strong headwinds. A national decline in church attendance, the struggling economy and the challenges of marketing to millennials have all led to the need for new approaches.
“It’s unsettling for a movement that’s lasted 2,000 years to now find that, ‘Oh, some of the things we always assumed would connect with the community aren’t connecting with everyone in the community in the way they used to,’ ” said Warren Bird, the director of research for the Leadership Network, a firm that tracks church trends.
According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who are not affiliated with any religion is on the rise, including a third of Americans under 30. Even so, nearly 80 percent of unaffiliated Americans say they believe in God, and close to half say they pray at least once a month.
One pastor in Tampa Florida dressed up as Easter Bunny.
One Sunday before Easter, the pastor at the Relevant Church in Tampa, Fla., wearing a rabbit suit, whisked the unsuspecting congregation away on chartered buses to a nearby park to build enthusiasm for the coming service.
“For us, it’s all about being interactive,” said Paul Wirth, Relevant’s founder and lead pastor.
I agree wholeheartedly with Rod Dreher who says, “I don’t know if there’s anything that would make me take my pastor as a spiritual leader less seriously than having him dress like an Easter bunny and do a surprise road trip.”
From the younger generations perspective, I cannot see these tactics working for long.
Increasingly, the newer generation is looking for less gimmicks, more straightforwardness, and simple truth.
It is related with our frustration with two-faced nature of politics, and we can see through the smoke screens better than the leaders realize.
We are happy to see things thought through anew; to meet in an old school, or an abandoned movie theater, and to have some more modernized music.
But this is no longer youth group, so stop the bells and whistles.
We are not into it.
The world does it better, so don’t try.
Don’t try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic.
Do not defend God’s Word, but testify to it…Trust the Word.
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer