How to reach people of "no religious affiliation"...

There is a lot of buzz in the media about a study recently released by Trinity College. The report is titled “American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population.” The study reports that 15% of America’s population claims no religious affiliation. One other important note about the Nones is that they are not overwhelmingly atheists as many might suspect. Rather, the majority of Nones (59%) are agnostic or deists. This means that many in this group will profess a belief in God, but do not attend any organized faith services.

Some might be wondering where the motivation for this study came from. It grew out of the study by the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) released in March of 2009. An interesting point in this study by Trinity was their effort to try and determine the religious upbringing or lack thereof of the Nones. They discovered that roughly 73% of the Nones were raised in religious homes—that is homes where both parents identified with the same or different religions, but both parents were religious.

This brings up two concerns. It could be concluded from this study that religious parents are not passing on their faith. Is this because the church has failed to teach them how to disciple their children? Is this because the parents are living hypocritical lives? Is this because the parents didn’t discuss opposing and critical viewpoints with their children? There is not way to know the answer to these questions for sure, but it can be taken as a warning sign to parents today. These are important thing to do with your children. It is important that if you profess the Christian faith that you live it out at home just as faithfully as you do “at church.” It is important to teach the soundness of the Christian faith and not feed them doctrines without the foundation for them. If we fail to do these things, we are only setting our children up for failure in regard to faith. Is it possible that so many walk away from “church” is because we are leaving them spiritually bankrupt?

There are a lot of people who believe in God—82% of Americans and 51% of the Nones. Yet, FACT2008 reported that the American church is in decline. How can it be that a large section of Americans believe in God but the church is shrinking? This is the second concern. This points out the obvious fact that there is a disconnect between the church and the majority of Americans. We need to be asking what has caused this disconnect and what can we do to correct the problem? Has this occurred because the church has become outdated and irrelevant to the culture? Has this occurred because we are not discipling our congregations? These are the kind of questions that need to be asked.

What do you think about these concerns? Do you think parents have dropped the ball (or what ways do you think you as a parent can prepare your children)? What do you think churches can do differently to begin reaching the public again?

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