Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rich Pleva: People in the UCC are Old and Tech-Averse

I wrote a letter to Rich Pleva, asking him if he could add some artistic flare and color to the advertising materials for the ReCharge event. He replied by saying that he doesn't want to add those kinds of elements because the members of the UCC are too "old and tech-averse." Personally, I don't think UCC congregations are too old to enjoy artistry and color.  I don't think we give enough credit to members of the UCC. It's disappointing to hear a conference leader sound so jaded. In case you want the context of the email, here is the note that was sent to me by Rich Pleva:

There’s a bit of a “chicken or egg” dynamic at play in this.  Our “market” for Recharge consists of the churches of the UCC in Iowa (we are a creation of those churches and exist (solely) for them.  The people of those churches are skewed markedly to the old and tech-averse.  We already get serious complaint that we expect folk to register online and encourage paying online, etc.
 
That isn’t to say that a more attractive appearance is a bad idea…it’s not….but when we decide how to invest our very stretched financial resources we are always doing a balancing act between respecting that which currently is and gently but persistently prodding our folk into a future that is irreversibly more visual and tech oriented. 
 
If Recharge were an event targeted to a general population (that is, one younger and expecting more tech sophistication) – it would be essential to upgrade a lot of the tech aspects of what we do.  We walk this tightrope of trying to be more technologically sophisticated – partly so we can be more attractive to younger folk (who are almost entirely absent from our churches), but not doing so in a way that alienates the very folk we exist to serve.  The conference has, after all, only a secondary existence – we exist for our churches (period).  Ultimately THEY are the ones who we seek to help reach out more creatively and winsomely.  Their market is ALL of Iowa – but ours is very defined – 173 churches.
 
Which isn’t to depreciate your suggestion – it’s just to point out that many of the folk with whom we must work already think we’ve gone off the deep end tech-wise. 
 
There’s a WHOLE lot more that could be said about this – it is one of the major points of ongoing conversation with my staff and the Board of the conference – but this is an intro to the challenges attendant thereto.
 
Part of the reason we have folk like yourself be part of Recharge is to expose our folk to newer and more creative ways of being church.  We are persistent in that…but ancient clich├ęs persist because they hold much truth ---- “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
Sigh.
 
Rich Pleva
Conference Minister
United Church of Christ in Iowa
515-277-6369

1 comment:

  1. Not exactly the kind of visionary leadership I expect or hope for in the UCC. Sad. Sigh.

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