retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Wall Street Journal this weekend had an interesting piece about how several New York City churches "are rethinking their approach to religious education, believing a change at the youngest ages will make it more likely that families will keep coming to church and that young people will grow up to be churchgoing adults."

This means, the story says, dispensing "with the didactic Scripture teaching, religious workbooks and off-the-shelf curriculum of traditional Sunday school." It also has meant, in the case of the 85-year-old Riverside Church, spending "about $300,000 overhauling its Sunday school classrooms to create bright, flexible spaces, including a lounge area for teens. The revamped curriculum, introduced this fall, embraces the ethnic, economic and religious diversity of New York and is adjusted for families led by a single parent or same-sex parents."

There are a variety of ways in which churches are changing with the times - not veering away from core values, certainly, but understanding that traditional Sunday School classes simply won't seem relevant to today's modern child. If Sunday School ends up serving as a wedge between the child and a religious tradition, the tradition ends up dying, and so, eventually, does the religion.

It seems that churches - as well as businesses - have to embrace the importance of being differentiated, authentic and relevant if they are to survive, much less thrive. And I suspect that for both it is a 24/7 effort ... not just on Sunday.

It is an Eye-Opener. Can I get an "Amen"?
KC's View: