Tuesday, September 20, 2011
In 1991 a NASA satelite that did Upper Atmosphere research was launched from the Space Shuttle. Now with the Shuttle retired and the satelite about to fall to somewhere on earth in the next three or four days, another milestone related to 1991 has hit. According to the USA Today reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman, American have changed their religious beliefs since WWII in a way that has had impact over the past twenty years in a noticeable dent. This long term result is that now she says we can sing "Gods bless America" rather than "God bless America" since "the folks who make up God as they go are side by side with self-proclaimed with believers who shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices." George Barna underlines that unfortunate trend, stating that "310 million people with 310 million religions" is an appropriate description of the American landscape. In 1991, still 49% of US adults in a typical week attended a church service. Today it is 40%. In 1991, 24% of adults polled hadn't been to church in six plus months. Now it is 37% of adults 20 years later. A consequence Cathy says, quoting Barna is that: "for every subgroup of religion, race, gender, age, and region of the country, the important markers of religious connection are fracturing." She summarizes his research that has recently come out that argues 7% of those polled in 2011 can even agree with 7 essential doctrines of the historic Christian faith. If I remember Barna correctly, this is extremely basic teaching that is not receiving consensus; things like truth is not completely relative because of God's revelation the Bible, Jesus Christ is Savior, and the devil is an actual spiritual being not a fiction. To sum it up people now say they believe in God or are Christians, but then believe whatever they want. As an aside, even as in the Christian church there are leaders like Webber who want an ancient-future connection, bringing back historic teachings for worship, all of a sudden the culture is not interested. The only exception is if they are customizing their beliefs, and don't care about the guidance of those ancient sources. Cathy calls the phenomena "hopscotch spirituality." It is a "'designer' society. Other #s: 8% less people attend Sunday School, 5% read their Bible outside of church less, and 7% less define God as the all-knowing, all-powerful ruler; compared to 1991 versus today. This is an interesting trend. Surely it is a missiological challenge, especially also in how to make decisions in church planting/Christian philosophy.