It’s hard not to feel a bit envious. Saddleback Church recently launched the Daniel Plan, a church-based diet regimen that includes small group accountability sessions, expert opinion, recipes and exercise classes before Sunday services. The program appears to be working: so far, some 15,000 participants have lost a collective 260,000 pounds. What can mainline churches learn from the Daniel Plan’s success?
The GPS got us lost three times as my wife and I drove over the mountain trying to find a restaurant that our innkeepers called the best in the county. When we finally found the “town,” there was no town to speak of but only a bend in the road, a bridge, a couple of houses, a railroad trestle and an old general store.
“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” When Paul appeals to the self-emptying nature of Christ as one of the central Christian impulses for generosity, he is ringing a familiar chord. Generosity for the Corinthians is grounded in self-emptying in much the same way that joy and worship are grounded in self-emptying for the Philippians.
What do young people look for in church? In research done in 250 congregations among people ages 15–29, respondents repeatedly said they were looking for congregations that were “welcoming, accepting, belonging, authentic, hospitable, and caring.” The researchers began to call this set of concerns the “warmth cluster.” Worship bands and ministry programs are not a priority, nor is busyness. Even “niceness” doesn’t work with young people. What they apparently seek at church is a sense of family, which calls for intergenerational relationships (Washington Post, September 6).