In a recent blog post by marketing entrepreneur Seth Godin called “Supply and Demand” Godin says: “Just because you have a supply . . . that doesn’t necessarily mean you are entitled to demand” (4/23/2016).
Godin is talking about business, but is this what is happening as US church attendance drops toward twenty-percent of the population and a rising number of Americans call themselves “nothing in particular”?
Is this what is happening with the “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon? They, too, make little or no demand on the supply (though some if not many belong to churches). A recent Facebook meme defined “spiritual but not religious” as “people who prefer to make up their own stuff rather than believe stuff others have made up.”
How responsible (or even true) is that statement? Are religions more than their theologies? If so, what might that “more” be?
Let’s say a religious institution dropped all expectation of an over-arching theology and encouraged “making up your own stuff.” Might that meet the demand? Can we name some denominations or institutions that have done that? Did they generate enough demand to survive?
Did most congregants in most denominations ever really know what their theology meant? How deep was the understanding for most people?Come to that, what the heck is the demand? Is that demand for the most part generational? Sociological? Is that demand based on economic class? Based on education? Aesthetics? Nostalgia? History?
Why do denominations with stricter theological views, while shrinking to some extent, experience more demand?
Why are smaller congregations going out of business while larger congregations grow? What demand are larger congregations supplying that smaller ones cannot?
How low will denominations and congregations go to survive?
Look around at all the pretty buildings and all the people in costumes. History and tradition has a supply. Is the demand there?
What is the demand demanding?