— Are Many Hurt-Free, Working Professionals Turned Off In Our Churches?May 23, 2013 at 11:26 am | Posted in Online Ministry | 11 Comments
In the last three years, I’ve talked to many professionals (40ish to 50ish in age) about their moral and ethical values and why they aren’t members of a church – particularly a UU congregation.
“You might find that UU communities are filled with people just like you,” I tell them with as much of an objective, non-evangelical tone as possible.
“I was married by a UU Minister!” says one psychiatrist in Maryland. “I send depressed clients to UU churches!” she says trying to acknowledge the good works that UUs do.
“My kids go to RE but I just can’t relate to the Sunday worship. They are so out-of-touch,” says the CEO founder of a multi-million digital dollar company in Virginia.
“All I hear is that we are all broken,” says a well-regarded author and academician. She continues: “I get it that people who are hurting are attracted to the church. I want to go but I’m not hurting. Everything there arises from some kind of hurt and, well, problems that seem so insurmountable. There’s a malaise despite all of the talk about joy and happiness. I even tried to volunteer but there was so much disagreement in the group. I get more done in one day at work with volunteer work there than in the church.”
I have been surprised that many of my colleagues and friends have walked into UU churches over the last few decades but never returned. Stripping away time management issues, queasiness about religion in general and other typical factors, more often than not, people I have known – highly functioning individuals- say they just don’t fit in.
Which brings me to question the power of the word “broken” and how it is not a soothing or believable acknowledgement of the human condition, for many people. Is the definition of an alternative church culture one that assumes everything outside of it is broken? Is this one reason why nearly all faiths are having trouble attracting attendees?
I’ve tried to explain how I came to realize that the language of religion – even its syntax – is easily misunderstood if you don’t recognize that on some level it’s like professional jargon. The difference between this “jargon” and other types is that it speaks to the soul and its source is compassion. –Sometimes my explanation works but other times it compounds the problem because it sounds like Greek to many.
I wonder how my friends and colleagues external to the UU world will experience their 60s – death phase of life. They appear to be on paths that lead to alternative types of living that center on community but have nothing to do with attending a church such as co-housing; group houses; Golden Girl inspired homes etc.
Another question of late that keeps popping into my head, and I’d love to know what pops into yours, is:
If the president of the United States was a practicing, devout UU, who would he turn to in our world for religious counsel? Who in our UU world could meet the unique challenges of advising the most powerful man in the world?
To answer, click the “Comment” link that appears just under the title to this blog post. Feel free to say why.