A Shul can do everything right operationally, but if they don’t anticipate and prepare for demographic changes and the changes needs of their members and prospective members, their continuity will be threatened. It’s all about the people.
Unfortunately Shuls in many neighborhoods fail to heed that call. I was in a big Shul recently with a dwindling membership. In the main lobby they had a letter poster describing proper conduct in their Shul. It read, “the Shul is not …” and listed many things that the Shul was not. You might in fact agree with every item in the list, but the attitude was quite a turnoff. It’s no surprise that they are not attracting many young members to their main minyan.
A Shul needs to listen and truly understand the needs of their members and prospective members. That is not to say that you necessarily can build a Shul for All Orthodox Jews, or that you can embrace an anything-goes environment. It does mean that if you have a letter posted like that mentioned above, you might want to step back and take a fresh look at where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you should be heading. It’s all about the people!