Our daughter recently went from having a long hair style to a very short style and as her dad I have the totally unbiased opinion that it is super cute! I was, however, unaware before the hair cut that the new style would require a whole different set of hair care products than it did when it was long. My ignorance may be due to the fact that I’m old, bald and male. The fact that I’m old, bald, male and a pastor may help to explain what happened next.
I wondered what would folks in the hair care industry do if they suddenly realized there was a rapidly growing number of their customer base who were embracing baldness? What would they do about a rapidly growing population of “balds”? Would they meet, talk, study and write books about how they might change the formulas of their shampoos, conditioners, gels and mousses so that the “balds” would come back and be customers again? They might, but speaking as a “bald” I have to say I would never even know if they did. The fact is that we “balds” simply pay NO attention to anything the hair care industry says or does. They could create the best product for the follicle challenged and it would never even make it onto my radar screen.
With that in mind I began to think about the “nones,” those folks who willingly, without shame or cultural hesitation clam “none” as their religious affiliation. Could the same be true here? Often in the Church it seems as if we have a vision that the “nones” are actually out there watching us; eagerly hoping and longing for the day that we’ll “get it right” at which point they will all rush into (hopefully our) church. I think the reality is very different. Even if we managed to hit on some perfect, mythical combination of worship style, theology and political bent, the truth is the “nones” would simply never know. The reality is they are not watching us. “Nones” are “nones” not because they have yet to find what they are looking for in a religious organization. “Nones” are “nones” because they aren’t even looking for a religious organization and honestly can’t imagine a reason to start.
I am certain that if a group of “balds” really became a serious market segment, the hair care industry wouldn’t just rework their formulas and wait to see if the “balds” noticed. They would rework their formulas and then go to where the “balds” were and make sure they knew there was something the hair care industry had to offer that they just couldn’t live without!
There is no doubt that in much of the church we need to rework our formula but we can’t stop there. If we hope to connect with the “nones,” we will need to leave the comfort of our churches and get out into the world and live in the places that the “nones” call home rather than live (or actually slowly die) holed up in our church buildings. We will need to show them, much more than tell them the Gospel message and wait for them to realize for themselves that we do indeed have something that they simply can’t live without!