Lacking confidence

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As my regular readers now, I think a lot about church growth and decline. If I had a simple solution or magic formula, I would share it. Much of the problem lies with the change of society: religious congregations no longer have such a strong claim on cultural influence. Other institutions, as expected as good Internet access or an accommodating coffee shop, brake into religious treasuries: access to information, a meaningful context for living and means for organizing a valuable response. You don't need church for friends or a cup of coffee. Newcomer certainly aren't going to support an institution for that. (Rural areas and poor urban areas, with less social infrastructure, may buck this trend for a time.) And it's doubly true that newcomers will not support weak leadership.

But let's step back. Some churches still thrive, and it's clearly not (to me) because they are more or less institutional, more or less dogmatic or more or less authoritarian. Self-confidence seems to be a better distinguishing factor. And how this may be cultivated a good use of time and effort. Why? Confidence says this is good better than self-assertion, and people can feel the difference. And desperation kills.

2 Replies to “Lacking confidence”

  1. Ooooo!!!! This seems VERY important and profound the more I think about it. And I would add that within a religious community’s sense of confidence, is a spiritual issue. If the community lacks confidence, this seems to be a HUGE spiritual problem/crisis. In what does the community feel confident? If they can not name it, there may be a problem.

    As for me, I will say that I am confident about a number of things: the profoundness of the Gospel, God’s work to bring salvation to all things (the final harmony of all things with God), and the necessity of the Body of Christ. Notice that in my case, my confidence does not rest in denominational institutions, mission statements, specific programs, or even in some inherent goodness of humanity. Sobering reality for me as a servant of the institutional Church within the UUA, and beyond the UUA.

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