In my previous post I wrote that I would share my thoughts on a “solution” for the decline of the Sunday church, weeknight classes and paid minister model.
I estimate that there are maybe 3 groups of people most relevant to organized metaphysical spirituality:
- active members/regulars (35%)
- previous members/regulars (50%)
- potential seekers looking for a spiritual “home” (15%)
Keeping in mind that there are always outliers and exceptions; the demographic data suggests that most of the folks in these categories are Gen X’ers or older.
Economically, the younger end of this group is in their peak earning years, likely with an eye on maximizing their retirement position and planning for the day when they can do things on their own terms and timetables. Others, at the middle to older end of the spectrum, are likely living on relatively fixed incomes of varying comfort levels.
As the pandemic upended households and jobs, it has impacted many families in the United States. It has forced some into retirement earlier than they were planning and required others to take on financial support for younger family members who lost jobs and income. All of this has a ripple effect on organizations that count on some portion of their membership’s money, including churches and centers.
These factors, in combination with the democratization of information, that came in the form of technology, has deeply impacted the ability for many churches and centers to maintain a revenue stream and support long-standing business models. The focus by many has been how to attract more people to sustain the old model. It has recently evolved slightly to add more digital offerings to increase exposure,… still with a goal of sustaining the old model.
Those who were interested in “church” before are still somewhat interested in church, although there are fewer dollars going into offering plates today than in years past, for many reasons.
Those who weren’t interested before remain largely uninterested. The millennial generation and those that come after are not going to save the church/center business model.
The model is in trouble, so what can be done?
I’ve written a couple blogs on my recommendation for a membership model, where interested individuals can join a “club” that hosts classes, meditation circles, even Sunday services. There would be a governing Board, and rotating leaders who serve a specified term. The dues/fees would cover basic costs and would afford regular members some advantages over drop-in attendees. You can read more about my proposal on that here.
The “answer” to how to solve the crisis in metaphysical churches and centers is to shift away from the idea of them as a CHURCH and the Protestant model of having a minister and move into a modified Country Club model. Dues, member expectations, benefits and affiliation with like-minded people can all be achieved without the need to support a full-time salary (which isn’t happening in many places) or anoint a grand poobah.
In most country clubs, there is the tennis pro, the golf pro, the swim coach and maybe a few others with specialized expertise. Members can take classes or sign up for coaching from any of these experts. These experts have the opportunity to coach/teach at the club based on their achievements in their respective areas – not on a degree from “Golf Pro University“. The new metaphysical membership model should work the same way.
Instead of someone anointed to teach prosperity because they hold a title, the local “prosperity pro” should be the go-to for these lessons. Recall that millennials are listening to metaphysical principles on podcasts taught by people whose lives are evidence of “what it does” and “how to use it”.
People interested in learning, practicing and sharing spiritual metaphysics will support a community that is respectful of their wants, needs and lives. It’s time to accommodate this officially in a shift away from the old-school, Protestant Church model and into a modern, egalitarian, membership model where experts (identified by the evidence of their application of principle in their lives) share what they know and have successfully applied in their lives and where members enjoy fellowship, friendship and support from their metaphysical spiritual friends and neighbors.
In truth, this model has the potential of maintaining all the things that people love about their current churches/centers (connections, fellowship, opportunities to learn/grow) but without the things that cause stress (dysfunctional ministers with over-sized power, continuous calls for giving more money to keep the doors open and the minister paid, non-expert “experts” teaching classes because of their title/role).
The reality is that when well-implemented, this model will quickly sweep the movement and render the need for a minister and other mandates from on high as irrelevant remnants from the previous century.
Metaphysical spiritual principles are life-changing. The value of a supportive, metaphysical spiritual community is immense. Leaders need to sit up, pay attention and work to preserve what is important and turn the sacred cows out to pasture.
It will be a shame if, in the interest of preserving the status quo, we allow the many benefits of spiritual community to be lost because some want to protect things that serve only the needs of a few, and not the greater Good.
In truth, I don’t lose too much sleep over this.
Right now there are more and more small groups of independent, metaphysical spiritual folks springing up who recognize the importance of building for the future, instead of worshiping the past. They’re moving forward, and not looking back.
They, and those that follow, will save the important aspects of the teachings that became a movement.
“…one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day.”Jyn Erso, Rogue ONE
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