Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Landscape of religion, it's a changing.....

If you happen to miss the news item on the survey done by the Pew Charitable Trust on the changing landscape of religion; you might want to click the link and go there to read it.
Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all.

44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.

It confirms that the United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country; the number of Americans who report that they are members of Protestant denominations now stands at barely 51%. Moreover, the Protestant population is characterized by significant internal diversity and fragmentation, encompassing hundreds of different denominations loosely grouped around three fairly distinct religious traditions - evangelical Protestant churches (26.3% of the overall adult population), mainline Protestant churches (18.1%) and historically black Protestant churches (6.9%). It also says that the Catholics have had the biggest net losses.

This link takes you to the full report. Also view the report's online section, which includes dynamic tools that complement the full report.

"Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion." This should be a big concern to all of us. We need to be doing all we can to reach out to all ages to share the good news. Our conference has made it one its four priorities to empower a new generation of Christians and for our church. When we wrote our Charge Conference reports, we had to answer what we were doing in the four areas. Our church had started a Sunday school class for young adults. The teacher has done a lot of contacting of this age group, and inviting them. But very few have come. The teacher has not given up on inviting them.

There are several books out that address this matter of why young people won't come to church and some things that we can be doing to reach out to them. Dan Kimball wrote the book "They like Jesus, but not the church"with complimentary study materials recently published. The book I am reading recently is called UnChristian which is about what this generation really wants, our DS suggested it. I am also reading Dear Church: Letters from a Disillusioned Generation by Sarah Cunningham.

Why am I reading these books? Because I realize I am way older than this generation. I was raised in the church, and have spent most of my life in the church, although for some periods I have rebelled against the church. I have become aware that most of my time is spent in church or with church people. I am so out of tune with this generation and their needs. I may not be the person called to reach this age group, but that doesn't mean I don't do my part to learn and try to connect. And it doesn't mean I forget the other age groups either. This age group may not come to church now, but maybe we are planting the seeds of faith in their hearts, and they will come when they are older. But there is no guarantee of that, and we as a church need to be opening our doors, our hearts, our lives to this age group as well. But this is not the only generation that is lost or disillusioned or hurt by the church. I find myself on a learning curve and having to work hard at this. I told someone I felt like I was back in school, back in seminary learing all new things, a new language and a new way of being.

How about you? What are you finding that works? What is your church doing? What is some of your understanding of this study? How will you introduce this and implement this in your church?


1-4 Grace said...

I too am reading all I can, spending time listening to and watching what the younger generations are, and trying to look for ways to enter into meaningful conversation.
That hardest for me is the idea that post-moderns, Gen- Xers, etc dont beleive in a central truth and the very thinge ha studied, learned, practiced has been based upon one, simpl,e universal truth.
Finding a new way and a new voice for a message that is still relevant, is hard.
I think it is time to call on the Hly Spirit

1-4 Grace said...

Just read the post about the poor kitty! Sorry you have been down with the flu and hope you are better.
but, I really do hate it about the kitty. Oddly enough, most of our expericnes of death begin with that of a pet. So glad you and Bob take the time to allow the children to have service, prayers, burial and expereince a positive aspect. The whole idea of being able to give praise for the life is a beautiful one.
I cringe when I hear of parents not taking the time to allow these things to happen or of insensitve comments made by peopel about a pet's death.