One of the first threads on the new Methodists Online forum began with a post about a study from Pew Research showing that now one in five adults in the US have no religious affiliation. See the study here http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx .
I’ve not had time to read through all the graphs and charts but I’ve seen enough of this study and several studies to know that the religious landscape continues to change rapidly in the US.
These studies bring up a lot of important questions for the church. Why isn’t the church reaching these “unaffiliated” person? What does the church need to change about itself, its ministries, or its way of doing things that would cause persons with no faith affiliation to want to make a connection with our church?
Maybe the biggest question is why most of the established church is failing to keep up with the changing culture!
This weekend I attend the installation of my new District Superintendent, Dr. Tom Carver, at Storm Lake UMC. His sermon was about how the everything change. The world is changing fast. We can all give numerous technological and cultural examples. We may not want to hear but the church is changing too.
We are either changing intentionally by seeking new vision, direction, ministry and purpose. Or we are changing unintentionally by aging, stagnating and shrinking. There is really no such thing as status quo. We are either seeking ways to move forward so that we can trend upward or we are declining or will decline.
As Dr. Carver said, none of us really like change. But change is a part of life, it is a part of church, and it is a part of reaching people with the message of the gospel. So we better be talking about, thinking about and planning for change rather than just letting it happen to us.