If I could make one rule for church it would be this…don’t dress for church like you would for a day hanging around the house.
Church is different, people. It is all about exploring the mystery that is our existence in this universe and giving voice to all that goes with that–the good/joyful and the bad/painful. Doesn’t that deserve better than you rolling out of bed and putting on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt?
Now…before you jump down my throat for voicing this opinion…am I saying that we need to return to the suit coat and tie or white gloves days of yesteryear? Much as I would like to say yes, that’s not what I’m asking for. I’m asking for more thought put into the clothes worn to church than the clothes worn for an afternoon in the park.
One of the things the black church taught me was that you always want to bring your best to God. That when coming into sacred space you want the way you look to match how you feel about the place you’re entering. I understand that we are not going to all agree on what one should wear when entering sacred space, but could we at least agree that what you wear to church/worship should not be the same thing you wear to spend Sunday afternoon in the park with George?
I don’t really care what you call it–Family and Friends Day was what we called it in the church of my growing-up–do you have it?
The reason I’m asking the question is that I came across this fact-and-myth webpage when I was doing some research recently.
In countering the myth many liberal churches have that advertising is the way to bring in new members, the authors present these facts:
Fact: Many new people (47%) visit for the first time because someone invited them; only 6% came for the first time due to advertising.
Fact: Most new people visit between 1 and 3 congregations before choosing their new home.
While I think the percentage that the authors say come to a church for the first time due to a direct invitation is low (I think the number is well over 50%), even if you go with the 47%, that’s a big number. A number that liberal religious folk need to pay attention to.
So in your scramble to build better church websites that are inviting to newcomers, maybe you should take a different look at what really draws people in. How about inviting your next-door neighbor to come to church with you? How about having a ‘Family and Friends Day’ to introduce those people closest to you to a place that means something to you?
If 47% of people walk through the church-house door for the first time because of an invitation and only 6% come because of advertising (and yes, I’m including websites in advertising)–where should you put your time and attention?
So yesterday was my day to preach. And this is how I started my sermon:
I have to being today with two confessions. First confession…there is one Sunday in the UU liturgical year that I try my hardest to NOT be in a UU church. As I am telling you this today, it doesn’t take a genius to guess that it’s Martin Luther King Sunday. Part of this is because I am much more of a Malcolm X, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us” type of girl. The other part is because I have nightmares. That’s right, I said I have nightmares. Nightmares that consist of me listening to Unitarian Universalists sing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” Badly.
Now I don’t want to get into the second part of the first confession, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the first part of the confession.
Is there a place in UUism for those who are more attracted to the rhetoric of Malcolm X than that of Martin Luther King, Jr.?
How much of the liberal religious attraction to MLK has to do with the fact you can focus on the second part of the I Have A Dream Speech and totally ignore the 3 pages single spaced typed text before he even utters the words “I have a dream?”
How much of the attraction is that MLK can be put into a nice little box and pulled out on days like yesterday, when you want to show how open and welcoming you are?
How much of the attraction to MLK is so that you can downplay and ignore those who were in your own movement like Ethelred Brown or the Jordans ( Joseph and Joseph Fletcher)?
Those are the questions that have been coming to my mind since yesterday. Maybe I’ll write more about them later.