A Lutheran pastor in Minnesota is planning to combat a decline in church attendance by millennials (young adults born after 1981) by opening a "groundbreaking surprise church" targeting the generation and set to open next year.
"When the Prodigal son returned home in Luke 15, he had low expectations for the kind of reception he would receive," states a publicist representing Pastor Matt Anderson in press release. "He expected his father to be as bitter and judgmental as his brother turned out to be. He expected to return as a duty-laden hired hand, not a son.
"But instead, he was enveloped by an inter-generational surprise party that shattered his negative preconceptions and readmitted him into the family. This is the basis for the 'surprise church.'"
There is no mention of where the church will be located, but the dateline for the press release is Golden Valley, Minn.
Anderson is described as an expert on American History and Politics, and author of Running Mate. He specializes in life counseling and has an expertise in Biblical content, according to the release. He is also a semi-pro athlete and an authority on CrossFit training and body building.
Gallup shows that millennials are less likely to attend church or have a religious affiliation, and yet they're more likely to pray daily. "On top of that, most churches tend to age and decline because 'insiders' and older generations of believers are not equipped for – or interested in – raising up the next generation of believers," states the publicist.
When launched in 2014, "the surprise church will directly confront the negative stereotypes of Christianity by gaining a reputation in the community for being positive, generous, helpful, creative, and transformative, in the spirit of Jeremiah 29:4-7," according to the announcement.
The "surprise church" hopes to reach people that most established churches struggle to reach. "Anderson will form ministry plans to address and remedy the expanding gap between the church and culture. A major goal is to empower parents to pastor their kids by doing faith at home as a top priority."