Fifty proven ways to revive mainline churches

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New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. photographed on Oct. 15, 2013. RNS photo by Kevin Eckstrom

New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. photographed on Oct. 15, 2013. RNS photo by Kevin Eckstrom

(RNS) Mainline Protestant churches continue to hemorrhage members faster than cable companies lose cord-cutters. How can local churches stem the tide? Before you put these surefire quick fixes into motion, be sure to open the floodgates because here come the millennials!

  • Post-worship coffee hour
  • Move Sunday worship from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., allowing time for brunch
  • Rebrand church with a modern logo
  • Tone down all the Jesus-talk
  • Commit to biannual website updates
  • Remove all crosses from sanctuary
  • Hold a churchwide conference on church growth
  • Preach shorter sermons
  • Sell naming rights for various Sundays during ordinary time to local businesses
  • Serve coffee before and after Sunday worship
  • Hold Bible study in the local pub
  • Serve fair-trade coffee
  • Keep the church’s finances afloat by selling “air rights” to luxury condo developers
  • Ask your pastor to get highly noticeable tattoos
  • “Relax” marketing campaign targeting busy single mothers
  • Raffle away iPads
  • Hire professional photographer for Easter Facebook album
  • Hire rock band to lead worship
  • Hold a conference with several other local churches on church growth
  • Move Sunday worship from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., allowing time for brunch after church
  • Return crosses to sanctuary
  • Work in “social justice” to every other sentence on church website
  • Welcome (but don’t truly affirm, of course) LGBTQ folks
  • When Easter/Christmas worshippers arrive, make them feel bad for only coming twice a year
  • Add fancy syrups to coffee bar
  • Have your pastor dye their hair to match liturgical color
  • Hold a statewide conference on church growth
  • Preach longer sermons
  • Rebrand with Orthodox Christian iconography
  • Bible study in the local park
  • “Biblical Manhood” marketing campaign targeting stay-at-home fathers
  • Buy espresso machine
  • Replace the rock band with a gospel choir
  • Move Sunday worship from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Pump up the Jesus-talk
  • Omit sermons entirely
  • Build coffee shop in church
  • Give away gift certificates to your church’s coffee shop
  • Rebrand church with local sports team imagery
  • Advertise “chill time” with the pastor at local pub
  • Bible study in the local coffee shop
  • Give guns away
  • Sponsor a nationwide conference on the efficacy of church conferences on church growth
  • Replace the gospel choir with Gregorian chants
  • Replace the Gregorian chants with Taize chants
  • Bible study in pastor’s living room
  • “Fortunate” marketing campaign with special-order fortune cookies
  • Have your pastor shave his head to wear wigs and costumes matching the biblical characters in lectionary
  • Water down theology to the point of being unrecognizable from local community center, art museum or spiritual drama troupe
  • Sell the sanctuary and focus on your coffee shop instead

Now that you’ve implemented these changes, be sure to avoid these six common pitfalls:

  • Call on members to authentically witness to neighbors and friends about how they encounter God in their own lives
  • Consistently practice what you preach since the No. 1 cause for negative views of churches is perceived hypocrisy
  • Place compassion ahead of momentary conversion and belonging ahead of right belief
  • Emulate the early Jesus Movement’s communal living and worship around simple shared meals
  • Offend other religious leaders in your community by preaching a radical message of inclusion
  • Truly align your church’s mission and money with the marginalized in your community (including the pastor’s salary)