"Well let me ask, do you want to know how to 'make it' – or do you want to know how your church can make it?"
The pastor usually looking at me quizzically, "What do you mean?"
"Do you want to make it? 'Cause, fact is, if you want your congregation to make it, you probably won't. It's an unfortunate fact, but an honest reality. Your church is probably 'funded' by that 'old money' – and yes, I mean that in the most literal way possible. Your offering plate gets filled with $2-dollar bills, because the people putting them in the offering plate think their novel. Not only are they giving money, but collectible money!
If you want your church to make it, if you want a congregation to survive, don't do anything different. Keep being relevant to those in the 1950s. And, no, I don't mean throwing guitars, drums, and lights up on stage. That's pretty shallow, if you're not willing to do the work to understand worship. If you don't understand that worship should make us relevant to God, it doesn't matter if you have U2 leading worship. You have to ask if what you're doing Sunday after Sunday is actually an experience that invites people on a deeper journey of faith. This doesn't mean becoming sacramental (not a bad thing), but it means understanding your journey of faith. Sacraments aren't a bad idea. They bring deeper meaning and understanding into the life of the church – there's a reason they've survived AND thrived for so long.
Yet, no matter how much you change the worship or how "progressive" or "cool" your worship is, if you don't change the way you 'do life' nothing will happen. No growth. No hope. You fail to be the body of Christ in the world. Lift your head, oh pitiful one. Change is difficult, and it takes money. So, yes, you're going to make some old white hairs/no hairs mad. Take a class in non-profits, or find a lawyer that wants to get rid of their guilt, and find out how to form one. Go after grant money. Evolve the church from a place where people only come to worship, to place where all people come to have their lives transformed.
So, the question remains: do you want to survive, or your church survive? Do you want to thrive and your church thrive? If so, start with worship. Find out what it means to enter into communion. Find out what it means to become relevant to God and to community. Will you get fired? Maybe. Yet, you have to ask if entering the ministry was a question of job security. Look into yourself. Do you call yourself a pastor or a prophet?
This isn't a liberal or a conservative idea. I'm not asking for an ascent to a way of thought. I'm simply asking for you to find the courage to live in the light of love – to live in the divine light of charity. You have the ability to work with God, for Christ.
But, eh, not everybody is cut out for this kind of work? Or are they? Your answer will tell you a lot."