So life has been quite busy for us lately. I have been working and trying to get some writing edited. Withteeth has been testing out a job as well. As such, it has been difficult for us to find time to publish posts. However, I do have some Bible posts that I’ve been working on. I’ll start publishing those in a few days.
But first I want to talk about the conference we were at this weekend. Gateway to Reason was a first time conference that took place this weekend in St. Louis, Missouri. It was probably the best organized conference that we have been to. I would definitely recommend looking into this conference next year if you are able to make your way to St. Louis for it. It was fairly cheep as far as secular/skeptic conferences are concerned and it had a large number of speakers. Russell Glasser, Matt Dillihunty, Aron Ra, Vyckie Garrison, and David Fitzgerald are just a few of the many speakers who presented a talk.
But it’s Hemant Mehta’s talk that I want to really discuss. His talk took place this afternoon. Hemant’s talk was about how atheists are failing to attract members and convince people to give up their religion. He said that there are a number of things that churches do better than atheist groups: First, churches really do give their members a sense of purpose. They send people on mission trips, they encourage people to volunteer, and they get people thinking about how to solve real world issues that affect the members of the church. Atheist groups don’t do these things. As such, we can’t get people to join us. People want to feel as though their local group is for something. They want to feel as though their is a purpose in attending that group. So how do we give people that purpose? Second, Churches offer community. Atheist groups do offer community, but our communities are makeshift. Christians will take care of their people. If someone loses their job, Christian groups will help that person until they are back on their feet. Atheist groups don’t do that kind of thing. This means that asking someone to leave their church is asking them to leave their safety net. Why would they do that? How can we better protect each other and offer that safety net? Third, the church is very good at death. They have a good story. A comforting story. We don’t have that. We don’t offer the same inspiration. So how can we inspire people to not fear death? Fourth, Christians have great messengers. They have a terrible message, but their messengers are great. Atheists have terrible messengers. Our messengers insult and offend the people they are trying to deconvert. Our messengers ignore emotion and aren’t very good storytellers. The strength of our message is irrelevant if we can’t catch the peoples attention to share it. So how do we improve our messengers? Hement’s point is that we need to fix the way that atheists bring people in. So how do we do this? Is Hement right or is he completely off base? Does it matter?