Tom Ehrich sees opportunity where others have voiced frustration when looking at the results of the recent Pew survey on Religion and Public Life. If people are seeking and moving from church to church, rather than bemoan the fact, we should be getting prepared for those who are going to be coming.
"The Pew findings that religious behavior is marked by 'fluidity,' not consistency, might frustrate institutional managers who had hoped brand loyalty would last a lifetime. But it strikes me as good news that people take their faith seriously enough to examine it and to go in search of real bread.
Rather than pout about brand disloyalty, I'd suggest that denominations and congregations prepare themselves to receive these seekers when they go seeking. After all, it was the refusal of major denominations to notice that baby boomers started leaving in 1964 that caused their steep decline in membership. If you don't see the churn, how do you examine your enterprise and respond to the churn?
If 'none of the above' is the fastest-growing American religious affiliation, then we need to ask: What do adults in America find missing? What movement of the human spirit are we in the religious world failing to sense? What matrix of needs are we ignoring in our stubborn insistence on tradition? What questions are we unable to hear?
Rather than complain about the inadequacies of young adults in failing to grasp the virtues of Protestantism, for example, Protestant course-setters should examine the lives of today's young adults and build bridges to them. There is no virtue in ignoring one age cohort in order to keep an older age cohort satisfied. We should try self-examination, not blame."
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