The Methodist Church is dying off. According to some (v. disputed) figures from Religious Trends 7, there will be only 3,600 Methodists by 2050, down from around 267,461 in 2007.
This precipitous predicted decline is because Methodists are old, with the bell-curve of attendees-by-age right-shifted by some 20 years (compared to church-going averages). Basically, unless they attract some yoof, The Methodist Church in Great Britain will go from being a collection of OAPs to a collection of the dead and dying (I’m exaggerating for emphasis, before you complain).
The churches solution to this is a very un-Methodist word: Evangelism. Specifically, attract the missing young people (catchily termed the Lost Generation – they’re not actually lost, they’re skating in the car park!). Burton Road Methodist Church in Lincoln have taken a novel approach to this, by asking their few young people how to attract more of their mates. The result: Star Wars!
“Burton Road Methodist Church held a Star Wars weekend over the bank holiday, showing all six Star Wars films using a full Dolby Digital Surround Sound system and a large screen to give the full cinematic experience! The aim was to give the youth of the church something to offer to their friends (using their own ideas) and it worked fantastically well, with both young people and families attending the event.”
Yes, even in the service:
“We also had a tuck shop, a cooked tea, a faith lunch and a Star Wars-themed all age worship. A clip of the Death Star being blown up (shown in the service) had the whole church shaking!”
Mmm… and dressing the minister up as Darth Vader probably didn’t help either!