Hot off the press The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey provides a rather revealing look into the religious- or should I say nonreligious- soul of our country.
According to the story I read on this survey more and more Christians in America are claiming no allegiance to any church and another growing percentage of folks call themselves “secular nonaffliated.”
There is much bad news for Protestants as practically all brands have lost membership. The Catholic Church remains steady, however, thanks to the increasing number of Catholic immigrants.
Interesting for those of us from a restoration heritage background- the Christian Church was singled out (in the article that originally ran on Monday, but for some reason erased from the article when I read it today- just the mention of non-denominational churches growing) as being one of the only churches currently growing faster than the growth population. On the other end, the Disciples of Christ got a mention as one of the churches rapidly shrinking. (No mention of the Churches of Christ in the article but we are mentioned in the survey. It can be found here if you want to wade through it)
Another revelation was not really news to me- that is- that folks now change church loyalties rather easily. I have been seeing this first-hand for quite some time. No longer can we assume that just because someone grew up in a church that they will stay there. Here is how the survey put it:
Fluidity is the rule today, not the exception. There’s greater diversity and greater movement — a quantum leap in the rate of change.
The survey is not predicting any imminent demise of Christianity in America- just that in the future the expression of Christian faith will likely be much different.
So what can we learn from all of this and what does it mean for our church? Here are some of my thoughts.
Welcome back to the first century. I keep saying this because if our country is now “post-Christian” the first century culture was “pre-Christian” with just as much secular philosophy as today. Yet in this atmosphere the gospel flourished. Why can’t it do the same today? The light of Christ will only shine brighter as the darkness deepens.
It should be good news that the survey identifies “non-denominational churches” as the only ones growing faster than the population rate. This has long been the plea and identity of Churches of Christ. Maybe it is time we tell someone about it?
Will we wait until it is almost too late to respond to this kind of news? If nothing else this survey calls for stronger faith and deeper commitment. Pew sitting will just further the downward spiral.
The last line of the article included this quote:
These new voices mean you can’t do business as usual. There has to be an entire rethinking of how to do religion and what it means to be Christian in this new cultural context.
Are we listening?