Minnesota: The Marketing of a Boomer Church

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About the time the first baby boomers (those of us born between 1946 and 1964) were coming of age, many churches began to decline. Was the church becoming an alien culture to the folks raised on Dr. Spock and weaned on Woodstock?

To devise an authentic Christian culture that appeals to baby boomers, pastor Leith Anderson has applied his mind to the boomer mindset. He arrived in the Twin Cities in 1977, called to serve Wooddale Baptist Church, a plateaued church wanting to return to vitality. In a short time, Anderson had changed not only the church location but the name as well. Such change has marked his tenure in a church that has now grown more than twice as large.

Anderson’s aim? To minister effectively to a particular generation. To do it, he has adopted a number of strategies:

Understand baby boomers. “Sometimes people confuse yuppies with baby boomers,” Anderson advises. “But actually, yuppies are only about 2 percent of baby boomers—the most educated of our country’s most-educated generation ever.”

A notable boomer characteristic is a lack of institutional loyalty. “The loyalty of a baby boomer must be won on a weekly basis,” he cautions. “If you’ve gained the loyalty of people born in the first quarter of this century, generally they’ll stick with you. But the boomers, raised on consumerism, will switch brands if they find a better deal.”

That is one reason Anderson got Wooddale Baptist Church to change its name to Wooddale Church. Local research showed the term church retains a positive image in Minnesota, but Baptist—a brand name—actually was found to be an impediment to some boomers. People these days do not so much want ...

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