The following blog post comes to us from Alan Rudnick for BaptistNews.com. Alan is an executive minister at DeWitt Community Church and author of “The Work of the Associate Pastor”. He also serves on the Mission Council of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The Pew Research Center released its 2015 U.S. Religious Landscape Study and it can be confusing to read. According to The Atlantic, it can be challenging to interpret the massive data dump of spiritual information because of the nature of polling.
With about 35,000 respondents, the survey outlines the changes in Americans’ attitudes toward religion, spirituality, belief in God, prayer, worship attendance and morality. Depending on how you read the data with or without context, Americans are less religious or have about the same religiosity compared to seven years ago. No matter how you read the data, here are the four realities of 21st-century religious life you need to know.
America is still religious, but not like 50 years ago. For decades, public surveys reported a belief in God at around 92 percent to 95 percent. Now, that number is 89 percent. Despite that slight change, Americans go to church less.
Churches have to work harder to earn trust and build relationships. There was a time when churches did not have to work very hard to get people to a church building. They just did! Now, 50 percent report attending a church service in the past month, down from 54 percent. Churches and pastors have to realize they need to spend more time, resources and attention with those not in their religious community.
Evangelicals continue to experience the most growth in Christianity. As the Associated Press pointed out, “the overall number of evangelicals rose to 62 million people, or a quarter of the population, and evangelicals were the only major Christian group between 2007 and 2014 to gain more members than they lost.” Churches and pastors must realize that success in reaching people in order to grow churches will not be found in using your father’s religious language and practice.
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