Friday, September 21, 2012

What Will It Take To Get People Back In Church?

With church membership in decline, especially among young people, religious leaders wonder how they can entice people back into the fold. Utilizing contemporary tactics, churches are starting to understand the value of sharing the message while opening up to new members and new ideas.

Creating a New Environment

As contemporary churches throw away the more conventional rule book of formality and strictness, they invite service attendees to be themselves. A casual dress code invites members to come as they are, whether that’s dressed for a formal occasion or the beach.

Other changes churches embrace include talking about current and relative issues. Instead of sermons circling hellfire and sin that explain the scriptures, but don’t address practical needs, churches work to create conversation. Texas pastor Ed Young consistently tears down traditional tribal behavior. His recent book, "Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse," addresses the sexual relationship between married couples. Without compromising Biblical principles, he starts couples and others talking about issues that matter.

Focusing on the Love

While the external appearance and relevant conversation bring people into church, another tactic serves to draw attention as well. Love, the central message of the Bible, involves meeting practical needs. Todd Gile from Newburgh, Indiana’s United Methodist Church understands the need for God’s followers to reach out to an “angry and disenfranchised” community. A church that preaches God’s love on Sunday while ignoring hurting people on Monday isn’t really following Christ or making an effective impact on the community.

Evansville resident Ray Brown describes how his church moved outside their comfort zone. In a safe and non-judgmental manner, his congregation serves as the hands and feet of Jesus every day, not just on Sunday. Additionally, pastor Dave Whitmore wants “a church for people who don't do church." When he reads the Bible, he sees people who genuinely loved each other. They accepted sinners and didn’t demand conformity. In fact, the message of Jesus is one of love, and he sees the revival of this principle as the key to church growth.

Meeting a Community’s Needs

Modern church members fulfill scriptural commands when they love others. Meeting practical needs is one way Christians can share their message and draw members back to church as they
  •     serve meals to the homeless
  •     smile at their lunch waitress
  •     help a neighbor in need
  •     prioritize marriage and family
  •     meet in non-threatening locations
  •     welcome everyone regardless of appearance
  •     include contemporary elements like social media, music and conversations into church services
These and other practices show communities that the church does care about more than external appearance.

Pastor Rick McDaniel sums up the current state of the contemporary church. “Without changing its message, the church has changed it methods, and the result is very positive for all people.” From accepting an informal dress code and talking about current events to using modern music and loving people, the Church is modernizing its message without compromising its beliefs. With these tactics, churches see an increase in attendance and watch people return to God.

Authored By: Robin Harrington Originally from Georgia, Robin is the epitome of a Southern Bell, cooking included. Her deep love for authentic Southern Cuisine led her to where she is today – sharing it with the world!

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