Friday, January 05, 2007

God For Dessert

For several weeks, I’ve been following a couple of blogsites that have addressed some intriguing topics relating to the church today.

Out of Ur is a blog initiated by the editors of Leadership Journal, and has covered a range of issues such as the commercialization of the church and church growth. Today’s blog is titled, “Have We Become Crypto-Christians?” A crypto-Christian is one who has adapted his beliefs and hidden them so that they are not apparent to others. He looks just like the culture around him—a survival technique practiced by many conquered peoples who have been forced to “convert.”

Geoff Baggett, a Baptist pastor, has a blog called Along the Shore that is also worth reading. He has tackled questions dealing with everything from inconsistency in his denomination’s baptism policies to multi-site churches to the urgency for real involvement in missions.

Although I do a lot of e-reading, there is a certain satisfaction when my print edition of the Wall Street Journal comes each day. It’s hard to fold my keyboard and lie down to read it, or to circle articles for my husband when he gets home. I circled today’s “De Gustibus” column because it addressed some of the same issues of interest to Christian bloggers. The column by Naomi Schaefer Riley is titled, “Reviving Judaism: Consultant-Speak Goes Religious”. Apparently, synagogues are facing the same problems mainline churches have faced for years: declining attendance and a listless constituency.

Just as many churches have become an industry focused on growth, market expansion and product development, Conservative Judaism is now looking to see what Jews want. A new project called Synaplex, sponsored by the Star Foundation, is designed to “provide people with new reasons to make the synagogue the place to be on Shabbat.” Traditional services may give way to “Torah and Yoga”, according to Rabbi Hayim Herring, the foundation’s executive director. Other events might feature a musical service with “latte cart” or a Friday night wine and cheese reception. According to the article, some of the synagogues participating double or triple attendance when they offer a “Synaplex” Shabbat.

The author offers an insightful closing to her column. “Listening tours, marketing gambits and strategic plans may be an inescapable part of modern life, even in the realm of religion. But in the end, for a particular faith to thrive, God can’t just be for dessert.”

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