The Local Church's Competition

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Our Real Competition is...

...the plethora of other activities that occur in our communities on any given Sunday.

Let's face it: we churches thought we should have a monopoly on Sunday. That thought was coddled by the so-called "blue laws" that kept businesses from being open on Sundays---ostensibly so that the employees and business owners could go worship. We were the only game in town, the only activity that people could do outside of their homes. We grew to think that was normal. It was not. It was an abnormality that flew in the face of reality.

This came to my realization in seminary, 44 years ago, when my wife and I took our dirty clothes down the street to the coin-operated laundromat on a Sunday afternoon, after worship, to wash our clothes on the only day of the week WE were off of work. It was closed: the city had "blue laws" that banned all but "essential" businesses from being open on Sunday. That was the day we went to the next town and washed our clothes. That was the day we realized that if we needed to do grocery shopping on the one day we didn't have to work, that was a necessity, not a sin.

Since then, youth activities, shopping malls, movie theaters, are all competing with us for outside-of-home activities on Sundays. Cable and Satellite Television compete for the attention of potential church attendees, 24/7. Our unwillingness to spend the money to offer anything but an extremely conservative version of the Christian faith on television, or radio, made that part of our competition. Our insistence on remaining with geographical "parishes" in a day when people all now live in non-geographical communities makes us part of our own competition!

Like every business in this country, we all have to live with competition. This is nothing new. What is both new and old is the fact that we thinks that because we are somehow representing God (or our particular theological understanding of God), we should be exempt from the realities that affect everyone else.

Isn't this a bit arrogant, on our part?

Tom Griffith more than 2 years ago

Notable Quotes

"Where the [Pew Research Center] data shows five million fewer Protestants, three million fewer Catholics, and nineteen million more “nones” who do not identity with any religion, I see Sarah the bartender who isn’t allowed to love Jesus because she loves women, Sam who adores the new Pope but hates the things the church has done in the name of Jesus, and David the minister who just can’t believe in hell."
– Reba Riley, writing in Time magazine.


I just think it's important for them to know what it does to someone who is a Christian and who is Methodist when something like this happens. It does hurt your ability to have faith for awhile."
-- Kelly Bardier, who along with her partner Jaci Pfeiffer were dismissed from an Orlando-area United Methodist daycare center because of their relationship, after reaching a settlement with the Florida Conference that will require church and daycare center employees to meet with pro-LGBT church groups.


“To [Millennials], ‘religion’ means ‘Republican,’ ‘intolerant,’ and ‘homophobic,'” wrote Putnam and Campbell in Foreign Affairs. “Since those traits do not represent their views, they do not see themselves—or wish to be seen by their peers—as religious.” - See more at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2015/05/13/evangelicals-claims-of-conservative-supremacy-are-overstated-and-misread-americas-religious-landscape/#sthash.P7az5pTO.dpuf

"I think that over the centuries, one of the great things that churches of all varieties and religious groups have been able to do is to give people lives of importance, and provide love for people that otherwise don’t get love, along with a sense of community and belonging. This is extraordinarily valuable and important. And the state isn’t going to do it, and many other sorts of organizations seem incapable or unwilling to try. And I do think we want to preserve and enhance that function in society.

"I think that’s the one function of religions that I would most want to see fostered and protected. How you can do that, and whether you can do that, with a frank acknowledgment of the mythic character of their creeds? I’m not sure it can be done, but I hope it can."

– New Atheist Daniel Dennett, in an interview with Andrew Aghapour on Religion Dispatches.


“To [Millennials], ‘religion’ means ‘Republican,’ ‘intolerant,’ and ‘homophobic.' Since those traits do not represent their views, they do not see themselves—or wish to be seen by their peers—as religious.”

– Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam and Notre Dame political scientists William Campbell, quoted by Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt.