Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Church is a Non-Option

Organized religion, especially Catholic and Protestant Christianity, are becoming a non-factor in the life of Americans. This report on a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life which interviewed more than 35,000 adults reveals that many people are leaving their denomination - some for a different one, some for a nondenominational church, and some for no church at all.

The U.S. religious marketplace is extremely volatile, with nearly half of American adults leaving the faith tradition of their upbringing to either switch allegiances or abandon religious affiliation altogether, a new survey finds.

Here are some other interesting quotes from the newsreport on this survey:
One in four adults ages 18 to 29 claim no affiliation with a religious institution.

On the Protestant side, changes in affiliation are swelling the ranks of nondenominational churches, while Baptist and Methodist traditions are showing net losses.

Many Americans have vague denominational ties at best. People who call themselves "just a Protestant," in fact, account for nearly 10 percent of all Protestants.

Although evangelical churches strive to win new Christian believers from the "unchurched," the survey found most converts to evangelical churches were raised Protestant.

So what is a church to do if it chooses to stay organized, stay together, and stay loyal to Jesus? Does the fact that less and less people are open to organized religion automatically exclude interest in Jesus?

This strikes me as another reason for Christians to take very seriously their attitudes and actions at work, at school, at home, while out shopping, driving, and voting. It doesn't really matter what a Christian is like when he is at a church event, what matters is what he is like in everyday life with the people around him.

If the church is increasingly a non-option for people, that doesn't mean Jesus has to be a non-option either. But if you rely on your church to communicate about Jesus, not many people will hear or listen. Your everyday life needs to commmunicate something about Jesus, or else people won't hear much at all. Or what they do hear from the voices of skeptics and athiests will have no alternative.

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