Last week 3 interesting items came across my radar screen.

  1. A new CNN poll entitled “America losing its religion”
  2. A NYTimes op-ed called “Belief Is the Least Part of Faith” by an author who specializes on Evangelicals.
  3. A God Complex Radio interview with Cameron Trimble on the Future of Church Renewal.

Each of these three caught my attention for a different reason. I want to try to connect them here and then listen to what you have to say.

In the CNN poll, it turns out that:

“More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years.”  One-Room Schoolhouse

There are two interesting parts to that opening sentence. The first is that it is only people ‘saying it’. It doesn’t meant that religion IS losing it’s influence – only that it feels that way to 3/4 of those surveyed. The second point is that 40 years ago it felt much that same way.

The article points out two other times in recent history that the percentage was very similar. Those periods were 1969-1970 and then again in 1991-1994.

In the NY Times op-ed piece, T. M. Luhrmann, attempts to clarify a common misconception by those who do not go to church about why people go to church. She is arguing that it is not because of belief – but rather that belief comes from action (going to church/living out your faith) for those who go to church.

As interesting as her stories and finding were, the part that really caught my attention (as one who comes from an Evangelical perspective) is that :

If you can sidestep the problem of belief — and the related politics, which can be so distracting — it is easier to see that the evangelical view of the world is full of joy. God is good. The world is good. Things will be good, even if they don’t seem good now. That’s what draws people to church. It is understandably hard for secular observers to sidestep the problem of belief. But it is worth appreciating that in belief is the reach for joy, and the reason many people go to church in the first place.

In the God Complex Radio interview with Rev. Cameron Trimble was great. She is the director of the center for progressive renewal and Derek asked her about the future of the church. She had fantastic answer that are best days are not behind us. This piqued my interest because of the CNN poll.

When I think about these three items together, I come to two conclusions:

A) IF the churches best days are not behind us, then WHAT the church is in the future will be very different – almost unrecognizable – from what we have been used to for the past couple of centuries.

B) The way that we engage media, use technology, train future leaders and use resources – especially buildings – is so important because of the reason that Luhrmann said in the NY Times piece that people are even going to church. Trimble also points out in the interview that the reason people even go to church at all has changed in the last 50 years.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these trends and ideas.