We need a Steve Jobs of religion. Someone (or ones) who can invent not a new religion but, rather, a new way of being religious. Like Mr. Jobs’s creations, this new way would be straightforward and unencumbered and absolutely intuitive. Most important, it would be highly interactive. I imagine a religious space that celebrates doubt, encourages experimentation and allows one to utter the word God without embarrassment. A religious operating system for the Nones among us. And for all of us.My friend observed that most if not all United Church of Christ congregations would fit this criteria. From my experience serving a joint UCC/UMC congregation and having worked with other UCC churches in my ministry I would have to agree. The United Methodist Chuch has also struggled with brand recognition. For the last ten years the UMC has been trying to increase people's favorable views of our denomination through marketing campaigns and local church efforts. The results have been favorable as our "positive" recognition continues to rise.
Is this all enough? I personally believe that both the UCC and the UMC have a lot to offer people looking for a community of faith. I believe that both of these denominations have churches that fit the requirements from the NYT article. But I think that we miss the point if we simply shout back that we are here, that we are doing that already. The genius, in my opinion, of Jobs was not creating something new, it was creating it/marketing it/packaging it in a way people who needed it could get it. Where our churches often struggle is that we forget that not everyone recognizes how amazing our communities of faith are. Yes, I really do think they are amazing. We do not make our opportunities accessible to those on the outside, those who really need it. Our churches become like archaic mainframes or desktops, failing to realize that the world has moved on to different devices, even though we can provide the same services, if people just knew how to access us. I think we should see the sentiments of this article as a challenge. If we really believe we have something great to offer, how do we change so that people can take advantage of it. How do we adapt to the shifting needs of those who are lacking a spiritual community, who need a life-changing presence? How do we "think different" and make faith simple to access? How do we tell people we are here?