The two spiritual Americas
Thom Schultz Holy Soup
We have two distinct spiritual camps in America. Their distinctives predict where they’ll be this Sunday.
Both camps consider themselves quite spiritually oriented. George Barna’s research shows that 88% of the nation’s adults say their faith is important in their life. And 74% say faith is becoming more important to them.
But how they express and develop their faith reveals a big divide between the two camps.
Let’s call the first group the Church-Inclined camp. Their expression of faith is closely tied to church attendance. They feel a compunction and duty to gather with other believers for a regular worship service. And that worship experience follows the same formula they’ve known all their lives. It’s always consisted of about half sing-along music and half lecture. For them, it works.
We’ll call the other group the Church-Declined. The old church formula just doesn’t work for them. And it likely never will. Barna reports that these people are part of the majority (64%) of the population who say they are “completely open to carrying out and pursuing their faith in an environment or structure that differs from that of a typical church.” And, 75% believe that “God is motivating them to connect with Him through different means and experiences than were common in the past.”
So, for church leaders, we see two messages:
1. Keep serving your flock (the Church-Inclined) with the tried-and-true legacy forms of ministry that connect these people with God.
2. If you care about the Church-Declined, look for very different ways to engage them. Barna says they “revel in participation, personal expression, satisfying relationships, and authentic experiences.”
For the sake of Christ, it’s not either/or. It’s both/and.
Thom Schultz – holysoup.com
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