Minn. Church Launches Service for 'Unsure' Christians

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By Emma Koonse, Christian Post Reporter
January 6, 2012|8:37 am

Minnesota's First United Methodist Church has taken a new approach to reconnecting congregants to their faith.

The church in St. Cloud is asking people who have averted from their faith to attend their services, which will be less "preachy."

Starting Saturday, First United Methodist will offer congregants who "aren't so sure about church" a service that consists mostly of just music and meditation, said the Rev. William Meier.

The pastor of the church, speaking to St. Cloud Times, commented, "Our church is concerned for people whose spiritual journey has taken a detour or have been hurt by religion."

The new church service will be offered the first Saturday of each month and will combine inspirational readings, music, and meditation.

"Our hope is that this service will be a safe place to re-enter the Christian spiritual life and find acceptance, healing, and wholeness," Meier added.

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The altered church service is a result of a low church attendance, and many other churches across the United States are being affected by the ever-shrinking numbers of parishioners.

Meier explained the low church attendance, saying, "Part of the reason that people disconnect is because it's just a natural part of growing up … of forging your own identity … and religion has been used in some manipulative ways, some harmful ways."

Music will play a key role in the Minnesota church's new service, with a rotating core of musicians playing numerous instruments.

"We want to emphasize God's loving presence in our lives," Meier told the local newspaper. "We believe there are people who are looking for authenticity, healing, and spiritual connection that this service will serve."

Meier noted that his church's offering is the first of its kind in the state.

"As far as we are aware, no one else in this area in offering this type of service that honors silence, acoustic music, art and meditative prayer in this format."

Not only is church attendance going down, but also those who do go to church are going less frequently.

A study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research said that American congregations have grown less healthy in the past decade, and that people in the pews today are lessening because they are aging.

Similar to First United Methodist, many churches are changing the way they conduct services in an attempt to attract and maintain churchgoers.

Earlier this year one church leader suggested shortening church services to last under one hour in order to boost church attendance.

The Rev. Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield in London, U.K., has said that “clergy should aim to keep the time of worship to no more than 50 minutes.”

He explained that services today are too time consuming in an offering of why church attendance is down today.

“One of the reasons for our recent decline in churchgoing is we are not making the occasional worshipper feel welcome,” Gledhill told The Christian Post. “You have to be quite tough to come to some of our services if you are not a regular attender. We’re praying for longer and we’re singing for longer.”

 

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