The New Religious Revolution is Drawing Flocks to Omaha
It’s true what they say. Omaha is churchy.
In New York, people identify their part of town by neighborhood (i.e. Chelsea); in L.A., by intersection (Pico and La Cienega). Here, it’s by religious institution. “We live near St. Margaret Mary,” they say. Or, “the Starbucks by Lifegate.”
This has always been considered a plus for attracting businesses and families to Omaha. It helped identify our city as a stronghold of Midwestern values and divinely-led wholesome living. Like the towns where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up — but with an Apple Store and Costco. In fact, our city has such vibrant, religious communities that it can be easy for people who are not active in a traditional congregation to feel a bit out of the loop.
But there were a few interesting articles in the Omaha World-Herald on Easter Sunday that suggested that the way Omahans are seeing church might be changing. One discussed how many area churches (and other religious institutions including our client, Grace University) have included various types of music, from traditional gospel to jazz to The Eagles, in their worship. Another was about local congregations finding new ways to welcome people who don’t attend church regularly. And a third was about the vote that Countryside Community Church will be holding this coming Sunday (April 12) to decide whether to become the Christian presence of the Tri-Faith Initiative, a first-of-its-kind movement to unite a synagogue (already built and active), a mosque and a Christian church on one campus.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, or even lack thereof, from a growth perspective for Omaha, this can only be good news. Every recent generation ─ from Boomers to Millennials ─ is known for demanding choices, in the way they worship as in everything else. By providing many different options, our religious institutions are helping to keep families connected to the community at large.
The wealth of choices also helps make Omaha a stronger candidate for businesses considering setting up shop here. For example, if the Tri-Faith Initiative succeeds, it will attract global attention, potentially positioning our city as an international thought-leader in religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
Churchy means different things to different people but, for the city of Omaha, it could mean (forgive my irreverence), the kind of publicity that money can’t buy. After all, for millions of people worldwide, the Word speaks volumes.