Nones, Economics, and a MeetupBy
There have been a number of interesting studies and articles lately that I think are helpful for the church to be aware of–and possibly a little bit more. A little bit more what?, you may ask. That, my friend, is a very good question. I’m glad you asked. I am even more interested in your thoughts. Here we go….
One piece of great interest deals with the increase of the “Nones.” Many interesting things here. One is that, “in terms of Belonging (self-identification) 1 in 6 Americans is presently of No Religion, while in terms of Belief and Behavior the ratio is higher around 1 in 4.” If I am reading this correctly, more people belong to some religious group than believe and behave differently. Experientially, this does not surprise me. That people recognize and communicate this fact IS surprising for me. A second point of interest for me on this report in a quick overview is that, “most Nones are 1st generation – only 32% of “current” Nones report they were None at age 12.” This seems to indicate a generational shift in belief and practice in the U.S. This is not surprising, but corroborates the ever-increasing post-Christian U.S. reality. It is both coming and it is here. This piece was twittered about a good deal and blogged on several sites including Ed Stetzer’s.
Another piece that is important for discussion but did not receive the same amount of attention is an article entitled: “Religious life won’t be the same after downturn.” The future will impact the outcome on this point. Though I am not a prophet nor am I making a prediction, I do feel that serious inflationary pressures in the future have the strong possibility to combine with very high unemployment at present (pushing 10% nationally and much higher in some states / counties), unseen foreclosure rates that still have upward pressure, and historically high credit card defaults, etc. to make things more difficult in the U.S. in general and for the church in particular. Notes payable on buildings have had serious consequences for some churches already and will bring about greater pressure for others. Even for churches that are not struggling with paying off a building, strains could be felt if economic and inflationary pressures continue to cause job losses and utility costs rise. It is possible that churches without debt could struggle just to pay the electric bill and payroll.
When the two issues above are combined, the challenges for the church increase, especially if inflation and employment concerns bear out. If so, the ramifications for U.S. church may require a shift(s) in paradigm and praxis.
One other note is that I will be at Catalyst this next week. Wednesday night I am looking forward to participating in a meetup for bloggers organized by Brad Ruggles. If you are around, I’d be happy to meet you. Drop me a note.