Over the past two years I’ve been working on a project (codenamed The Orontes Project) developing a new model of faith community as well as experimenting with ways to strengthen and grow existing faith communities.

Core to this project has been a market research study that was funded by a grant and a private donor to study the decline of religion and test a new faith community concept.

While the study, conducted by one of the world’s best market research firms, Lieberman Research Worldwide (LRW), turned out a gold mine of data, there was one finding that stood above the…


We don’t get anywhere in life unless we have goals. Even if we don’t achieve our goals we often get more done than we would if we didn’t set goals in the first place. Even if we don’t achieve them we also learn a lot about ourselves and the world along the way. However, we have to set those goals in the first place and that can often be the hardest part of the journey.

In a recent TED Talk Tim Ferriss suggests that the most effective strategy for setting and achieving our goals begins with dealing with the fears…


Google Glass was technically a failure, however, Google still learned a lot from the product.

According to an article in the New York Times, on June 7, 2017 the “Museum of Failure” will open in Sweden. The headline on the museum’s website states “Learning is the Only Way to Turn Failure Into Success.” The museum will display well known product failures such as Google Glass, Harley-Davidson Perfume, The Segway, and more.

The article quotes Dr. Samuel West, the founder of the museum:

“I really hope that you see that these mega-brands that everybody respects, they screw up,” Dr. West said. “I hope that makes you feel less apprehensive about learning something new. If you’re developing…


This past week I’ve heard/read the following:

My church is a tattoo parlor.

My church is a podcast network.

My church is Chipotle.

Okay that last one is a bit of a stretch, but we’ll come back to it later.

Note these folks didn’t say “my church worships in a tattoo parlor” or “I listen to my pastor’s sermons on my church’s podcast.”

These are fully secular spaces, places, and outlets.

I was chatting with a family member recently about this and she mentioned a lot of her friends are big fans of the Maximum Fun podcast network. She said…


How do you start a new church in the Twenty-First Century? Well, if you follow the data, you don’t, because it’s a losing bet.

Participation in organized religion in the United States is on a rapid decline. A closer look at our changing culture and the largest generational group in existence right now, the Millennials, might explain a lot about that decline. Millennials have fundamentally reshaped the world around us, from how workplaces are designed and operate, to how social causes are organized and supported, to how we receive and consume creative content, and much, much, more.

Let’s take content…


I had the opportunity to be one of the speakers at Ignite Phoenix #14. The title of my talk was “Why Being Spiritual May Be Better Than Being Religious.” I had an amazing time and met a bunch of new people. I can’t thank the Ignite team enough for this amazing opportunity and for being so supportive throughout the process. Also, thanks to everyone who encouraged me and continue to provide positive feedback as video of the presentation makes it around the internet!


If your organization is in crisis, you may need to hit the pause button and engage in a season of strategic planning. We talk about strategic planning a lot, but we rarely define it. According to the Strategy Management Group:

Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment.

However, developing a new strategic plan may be a waste of time…


This article was originally posted on UMC LEAD.

Fundraising can be the worst part about being a leader in the church. Asking people for money in the church world is difficult and uncomfortable, but doesn’t have to be. I say that as someone with years of experience fundraising in college ministry, as a new church start pastor, and as a board member for a secular non-profit.

In the church, the focus on fundraising (or what we call “stewardship”) is overwhelmingly on raising funds with those who are established church members. …


For mainline Christians, there was some panic a few years ago when we first learned of the “Rise of the Nones.” Now, the Pew Research Center has dropped the sequel on us: “Attack of the Nones.” According to their latest study, there are now more self-reported religiously unaffiliated people in the US than there are mainline Christians.

So what do we do now? Pull the townsfolk within the castle walls, use the rest of our provisions, and sing worship songs until we’ve tapped the last of the wine (and grape juice) and our fortresses are overrun by unaffiliated folks who…


I grew up in Livermore, CA, home of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. My grandfather had been a scientist there. He was also a lifelong Methodist. In fact, I grew up in the same church he raised my dad in, Asbury United Methodist Church, which was located just down the street from “The Lab.” This meant that I grew up in a church full of scientists. At the time I didn’t know the effect this would have on the development of my faith. The influence of science on my system of belief wasn’t totally obvious, though. I felt like I…

Rob Rynders

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