Rethink Church is the new outreach plan released on May 6 by United Methodist Communications. A website dedicated to seekers ages 18-34, www.10thousanddoors.org uses images of doors, demonstrating numerous ways one can enter into a relationship with a congregation. The campaign raises several important questions, such as “What if our budget served the people outside more than those inside?” and “How does our church go out there rather than waiting for them to come to us?” These are great questions, considering the growing number of people who no longer consider church a part of their lives — no matter how we improve or programs.
However, this campaign is also susceptible to the market’s influence, where churches ultimately focus on (according to an article in Interpreter magazine) “what people are trying to find.”
As churches consider their own involvement in the denomination’s Rethink Church campaign, we must also consider the market’s influence in our decision-making. Are we seeking a more flexible movement in the Church in order to more quickly and adequately respond to the particular needs presented by various emerging groups of potential young members, so identified by demographic studies highlighting “lifestyle segments” (themselves created by the marketing industry)? This is all to ask: Are media campaigns like Rethink Church possibly another effort to determine a church’s function and relevance in changing circumstances within the boundaries and definitions given to the church by the secular market?