Just because a mentor starts unconsciously humming Motown tunes during a heart-to-heart talk with you about temptations, that doesn’t mean his advice is irrelevant.
A church in Cottage Grove, Minnesota has made national headlines because of an audacious “In order to save the village, we had to destroy it” strategy to rebrand itself.
The church plans to close its doors in June and reboot itself in the fall, with a new focus on young families with children.
All well and good, except church leadership has been asking its older members to “take one for the team” and haul their intimidating old carcasses to some alternative congregation, out of sight of hoped-for newbies. A couple of years down the road, the outcasts can meekly beseech their former congregation to let them darken its doorway again.
The Minnesota church’s governing body supposedly AGONIZED over the decision to pander to youth. Not in the way older members might have agonized over rotting in a North Vietnamese P.O.W. camp or having a sibling with polio, but at least as much as someone agonizing over the public wi-fi flickering while they’re posting daredevil videos on TikTok.
This is undeniably one of those situations where decision-makers should humbly ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” My guess is that He would send patriarch Methuselah back to earth to share 969 years’ worth of folksy anecdotes with policy makers. (“Oy! Great-great-great-great-great grandmother Eve and her ill-fated #BelieveAllSerpents phase!”)
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As someone who has spent nearly 40 years growing in knowledge and empathy by teaching an adult Bible class (with THREE GENERATIONS of one family sharing a pew in my current class), I hope this segregation mania doesn’t spread throughout the religious world.
You need a few seasoned worshippers who have learned reverence, patience and genuine remorse. Who wants to hear prayers filled with “My bad” and “So, there’s free one-hour delivery on that prayer request, right?”
Look for doctrine to continue being watered down in a youth-worshipping church. If young couples can’t stomach the smell of Old Spice cologne and home-baked cookies, they’re sure not going to tolerate fire and brimstone.
Will exporting the seniors be enough to make church attractive to twentysomethings? Or will the duty of ushers transform into helping members hook up to a zip line? Will communion wafers be replaced with Tide Pods? Will hymnals ditch “The Old Rugged Cross” for “The Revolutionary Moisturizing Cross”? Will the raising of Lazarus be truncated as “Lazarus was woke”?
Hiding the seniors supposedly helps churches grow, but just how evangelical will a congregation be if parishioners are afraid to knock on doors because of the level of decrepitude they may encounter? (“The crone who opened the door could write in cursive! And divine occult meaning from an analog clock! Forget a new auditorium Jumbotron—we need an EXORCIST on staff!”)
The Bible tells us that God has the hairs of our heads numbered. And apparently church strategists maintain a database on their degree of GRAYNESS.
To think, theologians have debated the exact nature of the Mark of the Beast for nearly 2,000 years, and now we have it narrowed down to either DOUBLE CHINS or VARICOSE VEINS!
We are told that Christians are supposed to be a “new creature” when converted, but where in the Scripture does it also say they must remain as CUTE as Baby Yoda?
Danny Tyree is a syndicated columnist. email@example.com
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