April 15, 2013 — The rise of the so-called “Nones”—the increasing percentage of adults who claim no religious affiliation—has been a much-discussed trend in American religion. Is the nation moving away from Christianity and other forms of conventional faith?
To provide insight on this topic, Barna Group analyzed 42,855 interviews conducted in recent years, looking at 15 different measures of non-religiosity. In other words, the research explores the emerging post-Christian landscape of the nation.
The above words are from an email I recently received from the Barna Organization. For those of you who might not know Barna is a Christian oriented research/polling organization. The trend away from Christian religious denominations is getting almost to be a panic with them. They are now researching and reporting on the top ten Christian cities and the bottom ten. I debated whether to put this post on this blog or my other one that addresses spiritual stuff. For some reason, maybe because this blog gets more attention, I decided to post it here.
This trend has been going on for some time now. Long enough to have been given its own moniker “Post-Christian”. Anyone who has been reading my blog over at RedLetterLiving knows that I have been reporting about this trend for some time now. To me most Christian denominations are “shooting themselves in the foot” so to speak. We have splintered into 39,000 different versions of Christ’s church. Could that be one of the causes for us becoming a post-Christian society? As fractured as we are there is just no credibility anymore.
It is utterly a shame that the messages of Jesus Christ have always been lost on younger generations to one degree or another but now the trend is also moving to those who are older. They are just not coming back to the church as they have in the past. This trend is very likely to increase until the church either implodes or comes to its senses regarding its message. When we say “come to us as we are the only ones who have it right” most can see through this veil of hypocrisy.
One of my favorite boat-rocking followers of Jesus is Shane Claiborne. Check him and his books out on Amazon or Wikipedia if you are not familiar with him. Shane seldom minces words and here is what he says about the church losing it younger generations:
I remember asking in disappointment, “What happened, bro? What went wrong?” He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I got bored.” Bored? God forgive us for all those we have lost because we made the gospel boring. I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them. It’s because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives, which is why they play video games and join the army. But what are they to do with a church that teaches them to tiptoe through life so they can arrive safely at death?
Claiborne, Shane (2008-09-09). The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical (Kindle Locations 2024-2032). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
The statistics show that not only are we losing the younger generations but all generations are starting to fall away in numbers never seen before. If the church hopes to survive this proclaimed “post-Christian” period they must move outside of the ultra conservative political realm and address the troubles of the world today. It needs to get out in the world more instead of hunkering down in their often lavish cathedrals waiting for the end-times.
But I am just a simple guy who happens to be an avid follower of Jesus but not particularly religious right now so what do I know….
6 thoughts on “Shame On Us…….”
All churches- liberal and conservative- are losing membership. The “me” society is here to stay.
Yeah, Janette you are right, all are losing membership. I don’t know that I would tag it on a “me” society problem though. The youngest generation seems to be much more altruistic than the 80s Reagan generation ever was. I see many young people volunteering at the soup kitchen now than I did ten years ago. I think it is more to do with them seeing that church is just not relevant to them anymore. Shame on us for allowing that to happen.
As a parent of an agnotstic child, I would only suggest that it’s not being a churchgoer vs being interested in drugs, materialism or war. Although I hope that my child becomes interested in church again, not going to church does not imply a lack of ethics or much of anything else. It’s often simply a questioning. Going to church vs not going to church does not equal good vs bad.
And many churches are in face liberal-I belong to one.
Hi Barb, I’m sure that Shane did not intend to imply that it was either church or drugs. Maybe I should have included more for the quote. I am finding that many are saying they are spiritual but not religious. I am in that group myself. I certainly agree that going to church vs not is by no means good vs bad. I no longer attend a weekly church service myself but that by no means should be taken as not being spiritual. To me there is a vast difference between doing doing church and being an active follower of Jesus Christ. At least in today’s world.
Well said, Barb. Most agnostics I know are not self-centered, they are intelligent, thoughtful, and productive human beings. And they do not criticize or demean those who do belong to a church. A well educated society will be more likely to question the teachings and practices of the established churches…as well they should. It seems to me that the more we examine and discuss faith issues and church practices the better off we will all be. And, I might add that long established churches will benefit from self-examination instead of stagnation and rigid adherence to the past.
Good morning Jane. I certainly agree that most agnostics are not bad people by any means. Yes, I agree also that the more you learn the more likely you are to questions things and that includes church doctrine and dogma. I, like you, actually think that is a good thing but it is not very well accepted by many denominations today. They, for the most part tell you what to believe and don’t have much tolerance for differing opinions.
You are point on with your belief that we need to examine and discuss faith issues. That is primarily what I do at RedLetterLiving. I am just finishing up a discussion on universal salvation. That idea takes many churches in to an almost panic mode as they see a loss of power if we don’t concentrate on God’s wrath instead of his love. If only most churches would accept self-examination instead of being threatened by that.