Our culture is changing. One of the changes we are seeing, according to a recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Survey, is that the number of adults who claim no religious affiliation is growing. In 2000, approximately 8% of Americans claimed no religious affiliation. In comparison, today 16.1% claim no religious affiliation.
Another change we see is that most people have no qualms about moving from one church to another, e.g., one denomination to another, or one religion to another.
Some of the highlights of this study are as follows:
78.4% claim to be Christian
51.3% claim to be Protestant Christian
23.9% claim to be Catholic Christian
1.9% claim Judaism
0.7% claim Buddhism
0.6% claim Islam
What are the implications for us, the Church of Jesus Christ – or, the Christians? These are options:
- We can become anxious and fearful, turn our backs upon those different from us, put our heads in the sand, and keep doing church the way we always have done it. Many, if not most, Christian churches appear to be following this path. In my opinion, if we continue this direction, we will not grow and we will continue to lose our joy in Christ.
- We can grieve some of the changes in healthy ways, but then see in this emerging culture opportunities to extend God’s kingdom. We can embrace opportunities to change the way we do church. (Not the theological and biblical foundations). What adaptive changes might we make?
- Renew our dedication to model and teach the gracious love of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. This would transform bad and mediocre marriages into good ones, and serve as winsome examples to our children.
- Renew our dedication to reach our children for Jesus Christ, loving them into faithful discipleship.
- Choose to see the world, and all the diverse people groups in it as God see it/them. Remember John 3:16 teaches that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.” Rather than become anxious, fearful, and disrespectful toward those who are different from us, why not choose to love them? More than that, we could find ways to show them the love of God.
- See the Church as a lighthouse for lost people, not just a protective haven for Christians. Sometimes we act like the Church is an exclusive club. Rather, we could keep one eye on the lookout for those in our families and community who do not know or follow God. We could love them into Christ’s Church.
- As a community of faith, we could look for opportunities to reach our neighbors in the name of Christ.
One of the findings of this Pew survey was that a substantial number of people (4% of overall adult population) say that as children they were unaffiliated with any particular religion but have since come to identify with a religious group. This means that more than half of people who were unaffiliated with a particular religious group as a child now say they are associated with a religious group. What might this mean for us?
It’s a good idea to be on the lookout and invite people to church, and/or engage in a spiritual conversation.
Our American culture is changing. As a result of these changes God is laying before us opportunities. What we do with these opportunities will affect our families, our children, our neighbors, our communities, our country, and ultimately, the world.
Will we be found faithful followers of Jesus Christ?
To God’s Glory,