Into the Future: Why We Need to Create an Alternative Service

Harvest

By Jack LaValley

Jack LaValleyIs it possible our current Sunday service is lacking some core elements of persuasion and conviction that speak to the heart of our need for rebirth and salvation?  Are few new people joining our movement through our Sunday service because we don’t offer them what they really need, when they do show up?  If so, what can we do about it?  A specific kind of alternative service can help us attract and hold more “first-timers” and bring spiritual renewal and revival to our ranks.

Robin Debacker conducted a survey that gathered information from Unificationists about their Sunday service experiences. Contacting individuals via private Facebook messages, she collected 350 responses over a four-month period — two-thirds from the 50+ age group, and 103 from second gen.  Responses came from 195 cities around the world — 38 states in the U.S. and 32 countries.  In summer 2014, the survey results were discussed on this Blog and presented on her website dedicated to that project. Key facts gleaned from her survey were:

  • Nearly 25% of those surveyed do not attend a Unification service, and have distanced themselves or dropped out entirely.
  • 70% of those who indicated they attend a service on a regular basis said they are not inspired, and do so out of a sense of duty, or for social reasons only.
  • The majority of second gen respondents said that most of their second gen friends are not interested and do not attend a Unificationist service. Of those who do attend, many said they are searching for more open and honest discussion, more practical application, and more second gen leadership.

The Sunday service program model still remains the primary weekly gathering in the Unificationist faith community. Yet that model has failed to be the gateway program to persuade and convict the “unchurched” and “spiritual” seekers to become intimately involved with our faith community. Some  have “joined” through Sunday service, but not that many.  In some areas, efforts have been made to use home church, tribal messiahship or small group models to address how to “bring non-Unificationists into the fold,” but such efforts have yet to gain the prestige or influence of Sunday service.

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