So, What About Sunday?
A calm, centered, compassionate life is possible. #simplechurch.
God’s best work is done in graveyards. #dietoself.
Question authority! It’s our tradition. #Jointherebellion.
We’re cooler than Hell. #Yourchurchnamehere.
That’s a small sampling of the tweets created by Christian clergy and lay leaders in reaction to some of today’s headlines. Marketing expert and CST alumnus Damian Geddry led the group in a discussion at his one-day workshop “What About Sunday,” aimed addressing the church and its contemporary challenges.
“It’s a well-known fact that Millennials are walking – if not running – away from our churches,” said Geddry. “And yet social justice and a respect for spiritual practice are key values expressed by this same demographic group. So what’s happening here? Why are Millennials rejecting the same churches that speak directly to their values and needs? What is ‘Church’ in the 21st century?”
Geddry – currently an instructor at United Theological Seminaries of the Twin Cities – brings 35 years of automotive marketing, public relations, and advertising experience, and a clear understanding of the importance of listening deeply. “For me, a “Millennial” is not a person or generation so much as it is a person’s thought process: they are extremely tech-savvy, very sophisticated, not afraid to question authority, and they can read insincerity from a mile away.”
According to Geddry’s research regarding the non-church-going Millennials’ view of Christianity, 87 percent see the Church as judgmental, 85 percent as hypocritical, 70 percent as insensitive, and 91 percent as anti-homosexual. He says key concepts church leaders must be willing to honestly and openly address include science, cynicism, disaffection, hypocrisy, competition, diversity, and doubt. Millennial seekers are interested in making a difference in the world, are passionate about social justice, believe in contributing to their communities, and are searching for meaning and purpose.
“It was especially compelling to be in a room with leaders from various generational cohorts working to understand Millennials, who experience the world and, as a result, religious community in a vastly different way than those in generations before,” said CST alumna Allison Rainey English, Associate Rector at All Saints Beverly Hills. “Perhaps the most important take-away for me was that the church is still vital and relevant, but the way we communicate our values outside of the insulation of our existing church communities is imperative to the church’s future.”
Workshop attendees deconstructed church websites, explored the role of social media and creating quick, clear, honest messages. They also tackled science, technology, religion and the misconception that those three must be at odds.
“We are so fortunate to have an expert like Damian in our community,” said the Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan. “He understands our global, multi-religious, multi-generational, multi-cultural world and has a heart for helping the church become more relevant to all.”