I recently read a report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It further confirms the new realities facing Christians, churches, and church leaders, and it’s time that we all wake up and smell the blended faith!
In a nutshell, it is a “build-your-own” approach to religion—much like building-your-own ice-cream sundae. A few interesting thoughts from this study to consider:
• Realistic estimates are that weekly church attendance is now less than 20 percent of the population (“self-reporting” is always more self-inflated!).
• One-third of Americans that say they regularly or occasionally attend religious services do so at more than one place, i.e., multiple churches.
• It is now the norm for Americans to blend multiple religious beliefs and practices—from Christianity to Buddhism to everything in-between.
• Pop culture and the Internet are probably more powerful teachers than Sunday School teachers (Scot Thumma- Hartford Institute for Religion Research).
• These results illustrate the “playlist effect” in contemporary religious practice, i.e., we personalize our religious lives in much the same way that we personalize our iPhones (D. Michael Lindsay, Rice University).
So, what’s a church to do? Here’s a beginning list:
1) Let’s admit that we live in a world that has changed exponentially over the past couple of decades. It is volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous!
2) Let’s acknowledge that we must seek to better understand these realities in order to effectively pass along a meaningful coherent Christian faith to our children and those around us.
3) Let’s admit that we don’t like to deal with these emerging realities. It’s painful and often confusing.
4) Let’s admit that we must deal with these new realities if biblical Christianity is to thrive in the coming decades in America.
5) Let’s commit to the principle of being more Christian than Baptist. The two don’t always go together during the time in which we live. (The various extremes of Baptist expressions can be confusing and contradictory to the average person!)
6) In our decision-making processes, let’s favor an approach of “prayerfully discerning the will of the Holy Spirit” over Robert’s Rules of Order.
7) Above all, let’s commit to love and pray, be authentic and real, be open toward others, and become the Church that Jesus wants us to be in this new era–whatever that may look like .
It’s a start… toward newness of life!