Thursday, April 27, 2017

American Churches Dispensing With Tradition

                Churches across America are removing their denominations from their signage and advertising, and many are also dispensing with the word “church” itself. For example, Trinity Baptist Church in Maplewood, Minnesota has now become simply “Lifepoint.” Maple Grove (Minnesota) Evangelical Free Church just morphed into “The Grove.” Bethel (also Minnesota) Assembly Of God church is now “Bethel’s Rock.” The First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake (yes, Minnesota again) now self-identifies as the “Community of Grace.” As Saturday Night Live’s ‘church lady’ might have said, “Well, isn’t that special.”
                Churches have taken a cue from the business world, and are rapidly “re-branding” in an attempt to attract new customers congregants, be more inclusive, and cast off any appearance of old-fashioned fuddy-duddyness. Many religious leaders aver that the majority of younger people don’t have a clue as to the difference between a Baptist and a Lutheran, for example, and are “suspicious” of any terms that may be perceived as in any way exclusionary. In point-of-fact, an Arizona marketing firm recently found that churches with denominational names were nearly three times more likely to be seen as outdated and rigid. Almost two-thirds of Baptist churches in Minnesota and Iowa no longer have the word “Baptist” on their doors, according to the executive minister at “Converge North Central,” previously known as the Baptist General Conference, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
                There may be more than one reason these new names sound like nightclubs or condo developments: apparently, some church leaders have asked local developers what other names they had considered, since they did the market research, stated the director of church expansion for Converge North Central. He added, “You want a name you can turn into a verb or noun. And you want a web domain available for it,” according to the Star-Tribune.

                As someone once said, “The times, they are-a-changing.”

                “Welcome, all, to The Sanctuary, an all-inclusive spiritual center for those wishing to worship without being the victim of behavioral restraints or systemic white privilege. I have some exciting news for all of you, next Sunday we will be celebrating Prince via our ‘Purple Reign campaign for tolerance!’ The Prince of Peace had nothing on this guy, am I right? What a singular artist! We will be hearing some of his classic songs like Do Me Baby, Pussy Control, Asswhuppin’ in a Trunk, F-ck D Press, Horny Pony, Mad Sex, Me Touch Myself, Orgasm, Vagina and We Can F-ck. Damn straight!
 “And, the following Sunday is Transgender Variety Day, sponsored by Heinz™!  We’ll be consecrating the 57 or so different genders that we all now acknowledge exist in Christendom. All transgenders attending will receive, on a pro-rata basis, 100% of the proceeds from that service’s offering plates!

                “One last thing before today’s sermon, ‘Why Trump Will Burn in Hell,’: remember, there will be a special program at The Sanctuary Wednesday evening, downstairs in the cafeteria. It is titled ‘Sharia Law: Friend, Not Foe.’ I know, right? So great! And now for the welcoming, inclusive, tolerant sermon. Oh, and go Vikings!” 

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