Why Some Religions Are Dying While Others Are Thriving
“Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.
If you want to know a real secret worth knowing about success, look at the religions today that are growing and thriving the most and then compare them to the ones that aren’t. The thrivers follow one success prescription and the dyers follow the opposite. Here is what the thriving religions do to succeed in the tough religious marketplace. What is most amazing is why the dyers can’t learn from these simple success secrets that underlie all success in doing anything:
Thriving religions, as well as thriving individuals, couples or businesses, practice these simple things:
1. They do not take themselves too seriously as the absolute best cure to the world’s woes or the only answer to life’s curve balls. They realize they aren’t the only truth on the planet and that they are just a small part of a much bigger picture, in a confident but humble way. They find there niche and work it well, never trying to be too many different things to please too many different people.
2. They stay in close touch with their intended, fundamental purpose and everything they do--from music to worship style to doctrines to social activities—are all in close alignment to that basic purpose. This fundamental purpose is to tend to people’s basic spiritual and practical needs in reconciling the common claim made—“I am spiritual but not religious” (when in fact, if you are not both, you are neither).
3. They accept change openly, willingly and enthusiastically as the rule of the day, without foolishly sacrificing valuable, needed traditions that help nurture and grow their successes in carrying out this purpose, at least without a good fight. But change always wins out over status quo and the truth is “change or die.”
4. They practice the optimism of their beliefs in their work, especially in helping bring out the inherent goodness of human beings through love, compassion, hope, understanding and acceptance. Love always wins out over fear in the long run.
5. They provide members with deep emotional connections and real spiritual experiences that are transformational in helping people move past old failing ways of life to new succeeding ones, giving up false fear for love and the true abundance waiting in the wind.
6. They are not afraid to defend and debate important truths, including unpopular “rules,” in passing on tried and true wisdom that supports a way of life that has a good track record of working for people. But there is great respect for maintaining a balancing act between both the few absolute truths that exist and the many relevant ones that prevail and change over time.
7. They build big buildings and parking lots because they are pretty sure what they are doing is the best thing. In other words, they act as if they were already successful. And, what you expect is usually what you get.
When it is all said and done, all religions are “cultural inventions” attempting to best meet the important needs of people interested in or committed to follow them. They are also trying to grow their influence in the marketplace in order to spread their own “good news” about things which are not easy to talk about (deep spiritual experiences that seem like the best truth of reality), but of which they are certain that embody the noblest of all pursuits in life.
People today do want to have a sense of making progress in their life journey--whether it is getting more happiness, material comforts, peace of mind, softening of heart, contentment, success, accomplishment, recognition, meaning or wholeness—and any institution, including a religion, which figures out how to give this to people will thrive with success. And the ones who ignore this very urgent need will slowly but surely die on the vine. The choice seems easy, but maybe easier said than done.
William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including his latest book “Reality Repair” coming shortly from Global Vision Press. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or ckuretdoc.comcast.net