As we’ve discussed before, many religions are struggling to keep their flocks. However, all is not gloom and doom.
For instance, there’s a cute article this weekend in the New York Times about a non-religiously-raised kid who suddenly insists his (ex-monk) dad start taking him to church on Sundays:
He did not want his mother to come. Dianne Sweeney, 50, a customer service manager for PepsiCo, had grown up without religion, and a few times when Ryan had mentioned the pope, she had rolled her eyes.
“He thought I didn’t have the right attitude,” Ms. Sweeney said.
What follows is a touching story of redemption. Little Ryan joins the confirmation class; his dad stares at the beautiful stained-glass windows; even the mom eventually tags along and volunteers to bring a carrot salad to the church picnic. (Shrewdly, the article manages not to bring up theology, which might have made it controversial and/or interesting.)
At this point you’re probably wondering if there are any lessons your church can learn from this story.
Among the many reasons Ryan wanted to go: he’s a big reader, enjoys fantasy literature and has seen theories suggesting the world may end in 2013 due to the configuration of magnetic forces. In that case, he said, it would be nice to be on good terms with God.
None of these are traditional elements of church outreach, but they could quite easily be incorporated. Therefore, churches that are hurting for parishioners might consider one or more of the following:
- Advertisements on the History Channel
- Bible read-a-thons
- Sermons focused on religious themes in Narnia books, Lord of the Rings books, Harry Potter books, Twilight books, Dune books, Judy Blume books, Stephen King books, and Dr. Seuss books
- Reinterpretation of Isaiah to include Mayan prophecy
The obvious caveat is that, if parents were to start teaching their kids that fantasy books are fiction and that the Mayan prophecy is nonsense and that “the reason we don’t go to church is because your religion is false,” these plans might not work. But what are the chances of any of those?