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The Monterey County Herald, May 25, 2002 edition is reporting that
organized religion lost popularity during the 1990s. Americans who claim
no religious preference rose from around 7% at the beginning of the decade
to around 14% at the end of the decade. In an article published in the
American Sociological Review, University of California at Berkeley Sociologists,
Michael Hout and Claude Fischer said the change does not necessarily reflect
a decrease in faith. "One of the points we're trying to make is that most
people who have no church still are likely to say things like, 'God is
real. Heaven and hell are real." Hout said.
Their dissatisfaction isn't with faith or with God, but with the church.
Only 10% of those with no religious preference expressed a "great deal"
of confidence in church leaders and churches. Perhaps that is to be expected.
But less than half of people with a religious preference have a "great
deal" of confidence in church leaders and churches.
This trend signals a crisis in the Church.
The church can interpret this data in three ways. (1) We can criticize
current culture for its dissatisfaction with the church. (2) We can survey
the 14% to see what kind of church they would likely attend, then morph
to become that church and market the church to that segment of the population,
or (3) we can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that isn't
rejecting faith or God and ask them to put their faith in Christ, not the
church, to save their souls.
If we will do the third, we'll see people come to know Christ and we'll
become the church He died to redeem. Remember, God didn't call us to defend
the church; He called us to proclaim the gospel.
1 Peter 3:15 NASB "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always
being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account
for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;"
For more information on leveraging culture, go to http://www.thefuturechurch.com