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Posts from the ‘Christianity’ Category

Christians Shouldn’t Be Culture’s Morality Police

reblogged from Relevant

Police

Cara Joyner

By Cara Joyner

July 13, 2015

Cara Joyner is a freelance writer and work-from-home-mom living on the East Coast with her husband and three sons. She loves hanging out with college students, watching Scrubs and eating choc… Read More

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Study Reveals Decline in Religious Orientation Among Teens

One of the largest studies on religious beliefs in American youth has just been released. It revealed that change in culture is strongly influencing lower religious involvement.

journal.pone.0121454.g001

As the above figure illustrates, the gap between teens and their parents’ religious affiliation is widening. Since 2000, there has been a steep decline in religious “nones” (those that do not claim adherence to any religion). Between 2000 and 2013:

  • 87% more college students claim no religious affiliation.
  • 50% more 12th graders claim no religious affiliation.
  • 43% more 10th graders claim no religious affiliation.

As the chart below reveals, girls, whites, and those living in the Northeast had the largest decline in religious affiliation.

survey

The trend of religious decline affects all demographic groups, except possibly for African Americans.

The authors of the study present some possible explanations for the decline in religious orientation:

  1. An increase in individualism. This is characterized by focusing less on religious adherence and more on the self. Dr. Twenge, one of the researchers, stated, “Individualism puts the self first, which doesn’t always fit well with the commitment to the institution and other people that religion often requires.” She added, “when people become deeply involved in religious faith, they may be committing to a value system that may bring some costs to the self – albeit with the hope of benefiting others.”
  1. An increasing acknowledgment that religion is inconsistent with science. The researchers said it is possible that “debates about teaching creationism or intelligent design in U.S. schools, such as those in Kansas in 2005, pushed some young people away from religion.”
  1. Increasing religious pluralism in the U.S. “This could also result in the questioning or minimizing of all faiths”, the study suggested.
  1. Increase in online activities. The study stated that “a generation of “digital natives” heavily involved in online activities might simply have been less interested in religious teachings.”

What other possible explanations do you see for the decline in religious orientation in American youth?

Source: Jean M. Twenge, et. al. (2015). Generational and Time Period Differences in American Adolescents’ Religious Orientation, 1966–2014. May 11, 2015 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0121454

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Book Review: The Name Quest

downloadThe Name Quest, by John Avery, is a well-written, exhaustively researched manuscript on the various names of God found in the Bible. Although Avery digs deep into the Scriptures, there is nothing stuffy or erudite about his approach. On the contrary, his prose is both personal and easy to digest.

Avery does more than simply regurgitate information. Because he focuses on the characteristics of God and our relationship with Him, the author draws the reader into the very heart of God. For example, when discussing God as the God of Daniel, Avery beckons, “As we walk through life’s challenges, each one is a new opportunity to know God better. What will people learn about God’s nature from your relationships with Him?”

Many times, Avery reveals the limitless care that God demonstrates to us. For instance, God is the God of Comfort, and He is our Helper, Comforter, and Advocate. Avery states, “He meets us where we are and comforts us.”

Avery often shares personal stories as a testimony to God’s character.  For example, he explains the care of God by relaying a difficult experience he had at school and the way God showed him favor. He said, “God soothed me with a sense of his presence.”

Avery describes the person of Christ as being woven in four threads: Son of David, Son of Man, Son of God, and The Suffering Servant. He says that Jesus “linked messiahship with service and suffering”, thus redefining kingship. Avery substantiates this by quoting Jesus in Mark 10:45: “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The Name Quest would be appropriate for personal or group study. It is full of encouragement and life-giving words for all of us. Avery ends his book with the tone existent throughout—by challenging us to be transformed into the image of God. I cannot think of a more fitting goal.

State of Atheism in America

Barna Research just released a report entitled, “2015 State of Atheism in America.” The study interviewed 23,000 adults, of which 8,220 were unchurched. For the purposes of this study, Barna combined atheists and agnostics into one group and called this group, “skeptics.”

The research revealed that there have been some demographic shifts among skeptics in America over the past 20 years. Today:

  1. Skeptics are younger. Today, 34 percent of skeptics are under 30 years old. This is nearly double the percentage from 20 years ago. Additionally, the percentage of skeptics that are 65 years old or older has shrunken by half, to 7 percent today.

bu-032415-IG-2

  1. Skeptics are educated. 20 years ago, one third of skeptics were college educated. Today, half of skeptics have a college degree.
  1. Skeptics include more women. The percentage of women that are skeptics is 43 percent, nearly triple the 16 percent of women skeptics in 1993.
  1. Skeptics are more diverse. 20 years ago, whites comprised 80 percent of skeptics. Today, whites represent 74 percent of skeptics. There has been an increasing percentage of Hispanic and Asian skeptics.
  1. Skeptics are more regionally diverse. In 1993, 43 percent of skeptics lived in the West. Today, that percent has shrunk to 30 percent, indicating that skeptics are dispersed more evenly across America.

Some observations:

  • It seems that skeptics are becoming increasingly representative of America—better educated and more diverse. This makes sense. Today, it is more difficult to “peg” atheists and agnostics into a preconceived hole. Skeptics represent every race, gender, and economic status.
  • There is a rising tide of younger skeptics. Although the percentage of the Millennial generation in America accounts for some of the rise in skeptics under 30, it does not adequately describe why the percentage of skeptics in this age group has doubled. On average, younger Americans are simply becoming more skeptical of Christianity.
  • The large increase among women skeptics is a surprise. It used to be that more women attended church than men by a ratio of 9 to 1, but that ratio is rapidly decreasing.

What can we do to address the state of atheism in America?

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State of Churches in America

The church in America is in decline. According to research by Gallup, church attendance in the U.S. has fallen from 62 percent in 1994 to 53 percent in 2012, a 9% loss. One example is the Churches of Christ, which have declined by 9.8% since 1990.

GallupAttendance

Since 1990, the population in the U.S. has grown from 250 million to 320 million, an increase of 22%. If the U.S. population continues to grow at this rate and church attendance continues to decline at its current rate over the next 25 years, it will take approximately 1.6 million new Christians per year just to keep pace with the population growth.

Research by Olson (2005) indicates that new churches grow faster than old ones. In fact, once the average church reaches 40 years of age, it actually begins decreasing.

chart

According to The Christian Post, 4000 new churches are planted each year. However, if we figure that they have an average attendance of 200 people (perhaps an unrealistic assumption), we are still 4000 churches shy of staying even with current trends.

What does this mean? Either we need better methods of evangelism or we need more churches. Perhaps the old adage, “It is easier to have a baby than raise the dead” is an apt lesson in this case. My post, Boom or Bust? State of the Church in America, discusses additional reasons to plant churches.

We need more churches!

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