A Business Model Change

The headline wasn’t anything “newsy” to me.  In a report recently Yahoo News stated that “Millennials aren’t going to the chapel when they get married.” 

10154002_10204397421512020_6164652900866046430_nI know it!  I am a part of it!  This year I have officiated at 8 weddings (it has been a slow year.)  Only 2 have been in a church.  The rest, including my daughter’s, were somewhere else! 

The Yahoo article gives the rationale—the rise of inter religious marriages, the swelling ranks of religiously unaffiliated Americans, the rise of marriage among the “nones.” 

But that isn’t the only trend!

Have you read the obituaries recently?  A casual glance reveals that a majority of non-Catholic, non African Americans, are choosing to have their funerals in a chapel provided by the funeral home.  the reasons are similar.  Many have no affiliation with a local church.  In a recent conversation with a funeral director she reported that at least 30% of their clients have no minister.  She lamented that many of them are really “just looking for an emcee.”

The religious implications of this have been explored by many.  But has anyone looked at the business implications?  Bluntly put, if the church is no longer in the marrying and burying business, what is it that we do?  What is the sustainable business model?  What service do we provide?

This is not to diminish all the wonderful programs and ministries performed by local churches—including our own!  This is just raw business.  Again, rather bluntly, will people pay for spiritual nurture? 

I cannot imagine an a la cart ministerial fee—$50 for a hospital visit, $75 if it is before 8:00 am or after 6:00 pm; $125 for marriage counseling; $100 for a baptism—you get the gist! 

But the model is changing.  Attendance is dropping.  There are hard questions to be asked.  To avoid them because they are uncomfortable is a recipe for disaster—for us and those with whom we minister.

Wisdom is greatly needed, and appreciated!

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