Let’s declare houses of worship target-free zones.

I don’t mean you can’t buy Sunday school supplies at Super Target. I don’t mean to outlaw Boy Scout’s earning merit badges for archery in the church basement.

I mean that religious communities ought to be free of attempts to tailor spiritually by shaping their message to attract one group over another.

Faith communities should be buffer zones from our commercially driven society that determines value by usefulness and popularity. In a world that marginalizes senior adults because they have stopped producing, congregations can lean on their wisdom and thank them for handing us something to cherish. In a world where singles are treated like unfortunate folk missing an appendage, congregations can value each individual as a family unit and remember that there is no marriage in heaven. Children are not potential adults among us, waiting to count; they should be seen and heard here and now.

The intergenerational nature of faith communities teaches something that is lost when we target young adults, say, and change our holy habits to reach them at the expense of others. Customizing congregations to one demographic undermines our capacity to teach the world what real community is – celebrating differences and drawing upon diverse gifts and ideas, personalities and potentialities.

Toyota has just launched a new line of cars focused on Generation Y (those born after 1980). Fifteen years ago, they upscaled to Lexus, successfully attracting wealthier fiftysomethings and more. Forty-eight is the average age of a Toyota buyer. Now Scion (the c is silent, the word rhymes with Zion, and it means “descendent or child”) will try to capture the cooler younger market with funkier, boxy-looking cars with great stereos at a cheap price. I am tempted to buy one just to throw a wrench into the four-cylindered demographers. Alas, though, I drive a Toyota Avalon. I am 47. And I hate being predictable!

Is it right to target rich blacks or poor whites or well-educated Hispanics or left-handed Republicans or pro-life Democrats or…or…? If you look at our churches, you would think we deliberately do just that sort of thing – although we would hardly admit it.

Sins of omission, of course, not commission. Birds of a feather flock together, and all that. But we are not Darwinian. We choose how to be and whom to be with.

What if we modeled the look of heaven? If heaven will include people of all shapes and sizes, ages and stages, degreed and pedigreed, shouldn’t healthy congregations look a little more like that?