Some initial notes, December 28, 2001:

My Church Growth Project is an effort to educate people about organized religion. At the same time I'm going to be making an effort to highlight the good things about organized religion.

I'll also be writing an essay on the functions (I may call 'em "products" in the same way as Macdonalds makes "products") of organized religion.

Part of the project will involve writing ChurchGrowthReviews -- of churches and church services just like people review restaurants and movies. If you want to participate, leave me a note below.

Part of the project will be a glossary of religious and church architecture terms for beginners.

I won't be preaching to the choir, I'll be targeting


Someone adds: Re: people who hate organized religion. : People who hate organized religion tend to have some legitimate beefs, which religious people have a hard time understanding. How do you intend to get a happy/irrational idea through a carefully constructed barrier of reason and logic? Pascals Wager doesn't work, believe it or not, nor does letting them know just how happy they can be just by ignoring or apologizing for all the bad things in the world.

CapnDan responds: well I dunno what to say. The words "rational," "irrational," "reason," and "logic" have no meaning in the context of religious belief. The notion that everything is measurable, scientific, and amenable to logic is itself flawed. Lots of things in our life aren't including the notion of someone having a spiritual need. Maybe some people with specific beefs but still want to go to church, will learn about a church that avoids that beefy subject and switch. E.g. someone brought up in the Baptist tradition who thinks that god hates fags will change to one of several churches that love fags.

Someone writes: Yeah, switching churches, however, is a lot different from switching schools of thought. Your typical secularist will want the world to make sense, and try to fill that "spiritual void" with helping people, being generous and friendly to strangers, etc. The manufactured feel-goodism of the church might not be for them, however they could end up volunteering with various religious organizations because of the church's power over the masses. How do you propose to take care of this sentiment that deeds are more important than motives without resorting to FireAndBrimstone? speeches?

CapnDan says: Feel-goodism and filling some spiritual void (describing THAT is gonna be an interesting project) are only two "products" or "services" or "aspects" of organized religion. There are probably a dozen others including the ones you've mentioned above. More:

My mentor ClemMehlman writes:

Thought of you as I read this from Marva Dawn's recent book:

"Both the concern for 'church growth' and the concern for survival (which sometimes are the same thing) lead to many of the tactics of fallen powers, such as competition, the overwhelming pressures on church leaders to be successful, reduction of the gospel for the sake of marketing, and so forth."

Also, you recall I spoke of difficulty in referring to the Old Testament with sensitivity to the Jewish people. Dawn suggests the appropriate term now ought to be First Testament. I like it.

If you have any thoughts, hit the "Edit Text" button below, scroll to the bottom, write your stuff, and hit "Save".