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Small MN Church Makes Headlines for ‘all the wrong reasons’

An article in the Pioneer Press interpreted this instruction to mean that current members should wait 15-18 months after the doors of the church have opened again before “reapplying” for membership. This also seems to be the way William Gackstetter interpreted the instruction. “Like, who’s gonna wait that long?” Gackstetter said in an interview. “I feel that’s totally age discrimination, just wanting youth, the younger families.”

Speaking to the Pioneer Press, Peters did indicate that current members would be welcome at the relaunched church if they are “on board” with the new programming and focus of the church. 

Why the Relaunch?

Relaunching or “replanting” a church is a popular strategy these days to try and bring new members into a church. Many churches are facing an aging population with little to no new families with children coming in. Churches such as this are in danger of dying out completely, which is exactly what Wetterstrom feared was in Cottage Grove’s future. 

A relaunch could potentially help a struggling church shift gears to become attractive to the people in the community they are not currently reaching. While some may see the changes the church leadership would like to see as ageism, Bishop Bruce Ough of the United Methodist’s Dakotas-Minnesota region, disagrees. 

“We haven’t rejected anyone because of age,” he told the Washington Post. “What I do encounter from time to time is people who turn it into ageism because even though they say they want to reach young people, they’re reluctant to make changes that are necessary.”