Indifference? Meh.

Barna Group religion data-compiler David Kinnamon (author of unChristian and You Lost Me) talks about a growing apathy for Christianity that he's seeing in his research: "not so much, 'You Christians are judgmental and hypocritical,' [so much as] 'So what? Why should I care?'"

You may know that the Barna Group is an evangelical polling outfit, and that may have some influence here. Further, this doesn't mean that the "nones" are not religious. Still.

What are your thoughts?

Comments (4)

I think this is spot on. For the longest time, we were operating as if people were interested in being Christian or coming to church. We thought, "If we have the right music, or if we are inclusive people will come." This worked for a small population - Christians who were frustrated with their own church or denomination. But a vast majority of people (particularly here in the West) have no reason to consider going to church. If our message to people is, "you should come to our church because we will welcome you," we should expect the response, "why?" It is hard to break patterns of behavior. If I don't have the pattern of going to church, and I have not been touched by the gospel in some way, why would I show up. We need to bless people in some way in order for the gospel to become relevant to them.

David Kinnamon posits two groups emerging in the United States: one hyper-involved, church-speaking, doing things the way we've done it for decades group and one completely uninvolved and uninterested group. I suspect that is both overly optimistic and plays to the evangelical "us against the world" narrative.

I suspect what will end up happening is that there will be three groups: one growing group of the completely disinterested, one shrinking group of the "church insiders" that are sustaining things until, let's face it, they die, and a third group of sojourners or pilgrims that draws from both groups and is trying to figure out a way of talking about spirituality in concrete terms, perhaps borrowing from old models, but talking in new ways. I think we're in the post-Temple diaspora time in Christianity right now, and that is a strange place to be for most of us "insiders."

Add this to the list of reasons Episcopalians should begin to take evangelism seriously.

Tom and Brian,

I think you're both onto it. I also think that perhaps we're at a place now (we've probably unconsciously been here awhile) where lots of the assumptions and cultural situations undergirding religion as an institution have well and truly collapsed. Folks don't take religious truths for granted anymore. There's nothing making them and they can see enough of the world everyday to know that things are complicated and diverse out there. I think religion being "true" might be secondary for some folks to religion "working" or "not working" in their lives. I know it sounds sacreligious and heathenish but...what if we think about religion as a tool. A tool for experiencing the Holy, for living a good life, for being in right relationship, for fostering community. How do we present our particular toolkit as relevant to those (and probably lots of other) concerns in the lives of modern folks? How do we, the evangelists, look out at the world that thinks they don't need us and say "well, actually, we can help you live a better, richer, more meaningful life" in language that makes sense to an increasingly unchurched world.

Ok, enough rambling.

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