Current track

Title

Artist

[qt-onairmini]

#BBR Song Request

[qt-onairmini]


Honey, We Shrunk the Church

Written by on May 25, 2023

[ad_1]

As Yonat Shimron led off her report: “For American religion, the story of decline just won’t let up.”

She was referring to the recent findings in a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) published last week. As Shimron reported:

“A shrinking number of Americans – 16% – say religion is the most important thing in their lives, down from 20% in 2013. And nearly 3 in 10 – or 29% – say religion is not important to them at all, up from 19% 10 years ago…. The survey… finds that 57% seldom or never attend religious services (compared with 45% in 2019).”

There was another significant finding: 24% of Americans revealed that they now belong to a religious congregation that is different than the one they grew up in. This is up from 16% in 2021. The biggest losers in this transition seem to be Catholics.

Was there any good news?

Yes.

Most attendees across Christian traditions (59%) have attended their current church for more than a decade. Further, the vast majority (82%) are optimistic about the future of their church. An even higher number (89%) said that they were proud to be associated with their church.

The picture this paints of religion in America, though it is only a part of the picture and not the full portrait, is intriguing. “What struck me about the findings is the paradox,” noted Melissa Deckman, CEO of PRRI. “We see continued decline in the role of religion. But for those who attend regularly they seem pretty happy and satisfied, even proud of their congregation.”

There can be little doubt that people are choosing to bypass religion for their lives. But the good news is that those who have chosen to explore and, in the end, embrace faith find it to be deeply satisfying and essential to their lives.

The fault with religion seems, therefore, to be coming less from experience and more from assumptions made from a distance.

G.K. Chesterton once quipped: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” Today, it might be more apt to say, “The Christian faith has not been tried and found wanting, it has simply been untried.”

Which evangelistically is very good news indeed.

James Emery White

Sources

“Religion and Congregations in a Time of Social and Political Upheaval,” PRRI, May 16, 2023, read online.

Yonat Shimron, “Poll: Religious Attendance Is Shrinking but Those Who Remain Are Happy,” Religion News Service, May 16, 2023, read online.

Jason DeRose, “The importance of Religion in the Lives of Americans Is Shrinking,” NPR, May 16, 2023, read online.

Scott Neuman, “The faithful see both crisis and opportunity as churches close across the country,” NPR, May 17, 2023, read online.

G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Hybrid Church: Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age, is now available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christan Headlines.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Buzz

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. 

His latest book, After “I Believe,” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. 

Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.



[ad_2]

Source link