Sunday, April 06, 2008
In the spring 2008 issue of "Congregations" magazine, there was an interesting discovery in growth trends. I quote: "One of the findings that has generated the earliest buzz is the dramatic growth of what the researchers call the fourth largest religious tradition in America. After the evangelicals, which make up 26.3 percent of the adult population, the Catholics (23.9 percent), and the mainline (18.1 percent), come the unaffiliated (16.1 percent). Almost equal in size to mainline Protestantism, the unaffiliated have as much internal diversity as the rest of America’s faith communities. Consisting of small groups of atheists and agnostics, this “tradition” included 12.1 percent of Americans who identified themselves as “nothing in particular.” For those interested in emerging trends, it is important to note that this group experienced the largest net growth of any of the major religious groupings, climbing from 5 percent in the 1980s to 16 percent today."
The group has grown from 5 percent to over 16 percent in the last 25 years. Why is this? What is leading people to become "nothing in particular"? Could it be that people are seeing the church as irrelevant?
As I have done much reading and searching, it seems to me that people have lost of sense of meaning to the their lives. In the loss of meaning, people come to feel that "nothing in particular" is important. They feel like God does not care, and has left them to their irrelevance. As the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes said in chapter 2, verse 1- "I said to myself, 'Come now, I will make a test of pleasure; enjoy yourself.' But again, this also was vanity."
I think we can get too caught up in trends. The current trend leads us to where people are active, but that doesn't mean it is a meaningful answer. The one true answer is JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER. Jesus, who is "the way, the truth, and the life." It is really in Jesus that we will be able to believe something of meaning, and gain purpose to our life.
While people are feeling "nothing in particular," there is One who can lead us to "something of value." Tell me what you think (firstname.lastname@example.org).