George Barna released his latest report on statistical and sociological trends in the United States. The report is noting what many missional church thinkers have been saying all along, the days of Christendom in the US are numbered. The report notes:
…half of Americans believe the Christian faith no longer has a lock on people’s hearts. Overall, 50% of the adults interviewed agreed that Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith, while just 44% disagreed and 6% were not sure.
Now this does not presume 50% of Americans no longer consider Christianity their dominant religion, rather 50% thought the most prevalent religion is no longer Christianity. The difference lies in perceptions. Whereas one is the actual trend of less Christians, this one notes Christians (and others) are aware of a change happening in society/culture.
How does impact the church? Well within the attractional v. missional church it confirms widening suspicions for missional thinkers: we are getting to a point where we cannot assume Joe Plumber has even a hint of pre-Christian understanding/conditioning. This will change the way we do church in the building and how we are perceived by others outside the building.
Slowly we will find that with less people within a Christian worldview, the church will loose some of its effectiveness given the way it currently operates and assumes itself in America. We will have to discard, or in the very least change, the themes we provide in Sunday service, as well as the programs we offer throughout the week.
Because people are losing interest in church. But all is not lost as Barna points out:
By an overwhelming margin – 74% to 23% – adults agreed that their religious faith was becoming even more important to them than it used to be as a source of objective and reliable moral guidance.
So folks may be interested in Jesus yet uninterested in the whatever perception they hold of church. It appears the consumers of religion we relied to heavily on to pad our pews in the past are beginning to think a bit more for themselves.
What are some ways for the church to move forward in light of this trend? Should we claw our way back into the limelight? Is it the government’s fault for removing prayer from schools? Should we fight to get abortion banned again? Should the church hunker down in their close-minded and impervious shell to await impending judgement on the nation? Or should we get outside of our box and learn somebody’s name? We could start with out neighbor and work our way from there….I suppose that’s only the job of people with missionary skills.
^ last paragraph has moments of sarcasm.
[tags]missional church, missional, church, attractional church, george barna[/tags]