Like other bloggers, I am intrigued by the new Pew Forum Church Study.
What struck me the most was that “more than 40 percent of respondents told pollsters that they had changed their religious affiliation since childhood.” This makes a great deal of sense to me.
Many people I know who grew up in traditional upbringing end up at a non-traditional church post-college. I’ve seen evidence of the opposite as well in those that grew up in relaxed, seeker-sensitive congregations looking for something “deeper” in liturgical-type churches.
To me, this is part of the reactionary way of life. But I am not convinced that the reaction is always from guilt, anger or frustration. Sometimes I think it comes out of a need for balance and a reaction against the idea of “organized religion”
The need for balance and the fact that churches have not made that great of a case that this is where you should be to worship God. The case that is usually made is, “Come and act like us. Oh and face this direction while singing these songs. Oh and make this face when you sing, it looks more sincere …”
Though I am a pastor, I am not worried (I’m a man of faith for crying out loud! ;-). It isn’t the worst thing if some churches shut down. My hope is that healthier thinking gatherings and congregations will rise up and this will be the next reaction, coming and worshipping in church because we used to not have one.
In the meantime, you’ll have to tolerate a lot more doomsday and the sky is falling types of sermons/books/conversations. I’ve heard people say things like, “Well it makes sense. People can’t stay married to the same person all their lives, they can’t stay in the same church either”. It’s a little trite since none of us remember making eternal vows to any one local congregation. No offense but you usually hear these types of sentiments from middle-aged traditional people who are clinging to hold on to whatever is left of that “old time religion”. Brother, put down the VHS. Welcome to the world of Blu Ray.
You can read all you want about the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life here.