The right kind of church

Thanks to Rev Shuna for pointing me to this advice. The full blog post can be found here. I’d love to know what you think.

Here is a step-by-step plan for how to get more young people into the church:

1.  Be genuine.  Do not under any circumstances try to be trendy or hip, if you are not already intrinsically trendy or hip.  If you are a 90-year-old woman who enjoys crocheting and listens to Beethoven, by God be proud of it.

2.  Stop pretending you have a rock band.

3.  Stop arguing about whether gay people are okay, fully human, or whatever else.  Seriously.  Stop it.

4.  Stop arguing about whether women are okay, fully human, or are capable of being in a position of leadership.

5.  Stop looking for the “objective truth” in Scripture.

6.  Start looking for the beautiful truth in Scripture.

7.  Actually read the Scriptures.  If you are Episcopalian, go buy a Bible and read it.  Start in Genesis, it’s pretty cool.  You can skip some of the other boring parts in the Bible.  Remember though that almost every book of the Bible has some really funky stuff in it.  Remember to keep #5 and #6 in mind though.  If you are evangelical, you may need to stop reading the Bible for about 10 years.  Don’t worry:  during those ten years you can work on putting these other steps into practice.

8.  Start worrying about extreme poverty, violence against women, racism, consumerism, and the rate at which children are dying worldwide of preventable, treatable diseases.  Put all the energy you formerly spent worrying about the legit-ness of gay people into figuring out ways to do some good in these areas.

9.  Do not shy away from lighting candles, silence, incense, laughter, reallygood food, and extraordinary music.  By “extraordinary music” I mean genuine music.  Soulful music.  Well-written, well-composed music.  Original music.  Four-part harmony music.  Funky retro organ music.  Hymns.  Taize chants.  Bluegrass.  Steel guitar.  Humming.  Gospel.  We are the church; we have a uber-rich history of amazing music.  Remember this.

10.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

11.  Learn how to sit with people who are dying.

12.  Feast as much as possible.  Cardboard communion wafers are a feast in symbol only.  Humans can not live on symbols alone.  Remember this.

13.  Notice visitors, smile genuinely at them, include them in conversations, but do not overwhelm them.

14.  Be vulnerable.

15.  Stop worrying about getting young people into the church.  Stop worrying about marketing strategies.  Take a deep breath.  If there is a God, that God isn’t going to die even if there are no more Christians at all.

16.  Figure out who is suffering in your community.  Go be with them.

17.  Remind yourself that you don’t have to take God to anyone.  God is already with everyone.  So, rather than taking the approach that you need to take the truth out to people who need it, adopt the approach that you need to go find the truth that others have and you are missing.  Go be evangelized.

18.  Put some time and care and energy into creating a beautiful space for worship and being-together.  But shy away from building campaigns, parking lot expansions, and what-have-you.

19.  Make some part of the church building accessible for people to pray in 24/7.  Put some blankets there too, in case someone has nowhere else to go for the night.

20.  Listen to God (to Wisdom, to Love) more than you speak your opinions.

This is a fool-proof plan.  If you do it, I guarantee that you will attract young people to your church.  And lots of other kinds of people too.  The end.

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8 Responses to The right kind of church

  1. Tim says:

    Great stuff, although I have to jab the pointy-finger of pedantry on #7. Both piskies and non-piskies alike can benefit by reading more books *about* the bible as well.

    I like #9. Perhaps I’ve encountered (or exhibited?!) too much “we don’t do that here”-itis of late, but it’s a rising sensitivity compared to earlier positions of “any tradition goes”.

  2. I like your points, mostly. I do think reading the Bible is great and have participated in many Bible reading work groups, even within the Episcopalian Church. I was attracted to this church by that old renegade who died in a wadi in the Holy Land. I want to say Norman Vincent Peale, but I honestly cannot remember his name. Oh that’s right, it was Bishop Pike. The other guys I like are Jesuits, although I don’t care much for Saint Paul. I uncovered my head a long time ago.

  3. LC says:

    I hooted with laughter at #1 and 2, which was embarrassing because I am in a coffee shop right now. Now #7 seems to lump Episcopalians and evangelicals and brand the evangelicals the same way some evangelicals lump other categories of people together. Bigotry is bigotry, even if its bigotry against religious bigots! And we evangelicals do NOT need to stop reading the Bible (although I assume that was sly humor). Those who use Scripture as a weapon or pick and choose Scripture fragments to support their prejudices and legalisms need to continue reading the Bible, with an open heart and mind. Good stuff, Freda!

  4. Lyn says:

    Freda, this is beautiful and it is spot on. Direct and down to earth. Or perhaps t is “up to Heaven.” LOL!

    May I have your permission to share this?

  5. freda says:

    Thanks for the comments – sorry to say that I wasn’t the original author, but I kept finding the list on various sites on the net. As far as I can see it is by the and the original post is at

    Lyn, I don’t think you need to ask for permission as long as you acknowledge the originator. She has recognised that her post has “gone viral.” I think it is just getting to the uk now, so I have told her in a comment what is happening. The author certainly has a lot of interesting things to say about God, prayer and spirituality.

  6. Lyn says:

    OK, I didn’t catch that. I appreciate it. Your words or not, it’s a great post!

  7. Marcia Mayo says:

    I so agree and the same goes for old folks looking for a church. No one needs a faux rock band in the sanctuary. A real one would be great.

  8. Pingback: Good Advice | Two Left Hands

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