Many organized faith groups are wringing their hands over the growing category of “nones” and wondering how to attract young people, especially, back to the fold. What words of wisdom would you give them?
Listen, listen, listen. Listen again. Don’t think that stuff like beer nights and church meeting in a coffee shop and pastors in flannel and skinny jeans is going to be enough: it’s not, and many people see right through it. Meet people where they arrive rather than drawing a line and expecting them to cross it. Be present to people’s doubts and questions in honest ways. People want to do good for the world even if they’re not part of your faith tradition. Trust in that.
These are some of the wisest words I have come across lately concerning the increasing number of “nones” when it comes to religious membership. I see myself as a very spiritual person. I want to do good for the world and have, at least in the past, believed that religious establishments were some of those places to be able to do that. But I, like so many others, was driven out of a religious organization because I asked too many questions and therefore threatened the perceived peace of a congregation.
I see the statistics almost everyday of the declining numbers in churches in the U.S. Even the mega-churches are starting to shrink in numbers. From personal experiences I know that the “you jump through the right hoops and we will let you join us” mentality is very prevalent in today’s churches especially for those churches that take the bible to be literal. For them you seem to have to check your intelligence at the door and accept things that you pretty well much know is wrong in order to join.
I think the beer nights and coffee shop references above were about the mega-churches who are also in decline now. Even that could not keep them coming. Most people are looking for spiritual support, not a clubhouse, or certainly not to be told that they are nothing but worthless pieces of snot who can’t do anything as some approach it. To me one of the biggest problems with so many of today’s chruches are that they just want to hunker down in the “big bad world” instead of going out and to the Lord’s business.
I think the magic words in the source above are Be present to people’s doubts and questions in honest ways. If only more of them did that. If Pope Francis is true to his word I think that if he lives long enough he just might turn the Catholic church more in that direction and maybe some of the others will follow. Wouldn’t that be something??
I think God is up to all the questions we might ask and no the answer can’t always be that it is a mystery that we simply have to accept….