“Recently, Pew Research released their latest findings regarding the religious landscape in America. The numbers weren’t shocking, if you keep up on those types of things.
Roughly 70% of Americans affiliate with the Christian faith, 23% claim no religion, and the final 7% affiliate with other world religions. Ho-hum, let’s move on…we’re still a Christian nation.
But here’s the rub. These statistics are just that. They are surface numbers. The label “Christian” is a box to check off on a list of religious choices.
Here’s what the summary doesn’t tell us about being Christian.
- Only 17% of people ages 18-29 identify as Christian compared to 35% of the same age group who identify as Unaffiliated.
- 30% of Christians are parents of children under 18 which is nearly equal to Unaffiliated parents who come in at 26%.
- 27% of Unaffiliated persons express an “absolutely certain” belief in God, 22% are fairly certain there is a God and 13% say their religion is very important in their lives.
- More members of the Unaffiliated group feel a sense of wonder and awe about the universe weekly than do Christians (47% compared to 45%)
- 47% of Christians say they seldom or never participate in prayer, scripture study or religious education groups among Christians
- 43% of Christians say their religion guides their understanding of right and wrong. 41% say their own common sense does this (compare this to 57% of Unaffiliated – not that different).
- 59% of Christians say that what is right and wrong depends on the situation; there are no absolutes. 78% of Unaffiliated identifiers agree.
- 33% of Christians seldom or never read the Bible and 18% don’t believe it is the Word of God.
This is the environment that our children are growing up in
When we do the deeper digging, we find out that in terms of spiritual discipleship and maturity, there’s really not a huge difference between those who are Unaffiliated with a religion and those who identify as Christian. Our differences come into play in other areas like political affiliation, views on social issues and the government’s role, and belief in an afterlife. But when it comes to things like believing in a God, participating in a faith community, making moral decisions, and even reading the Bible… we’re not all that different.
And if we look at who is raising the next generation…we are equally sharing that load; Christian and Unaffiliated.
There is our “why.”
Why do we keep emphasizing the importance of discipleship in the home?
Why do we keep talking about the need for generational discipleship in the church?
Why do we continue to encourage parents to engage with the kids around the ideas of faith and community and the Church to get outside of times and location and be that faith community for them?
Why do we send home devotionals from Sunday School, provide Scriptures for discussion, encourage participation in worship and learning for all ages, equip parents for the work of discipleship at home, and invest hours of prayer into the generations to come?”
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