The religious landscape of our country continues to evolve. In Pew Research Surveys that took place in 2018 and 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christian, down 12% over the past decade. At the same time, the religiously unaffiliated (the “nones”) share of the population now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.
Reasons abound why these trends are occurring. Some people are turned off by the fighting and feuding within the walls of some denominations and congregations. Others see religious people as hypocritical and self-absorbed. What all this means for me is the church, and other religious bodies, have to keep doing the essential work they are called to do. As Christians, we need to keep going back to the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 (CEB), “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations . . . .”
Our Discipleship Pathway at Lovely Lane continues to provide guidance in the disciple-making process. We continue to focus on “Worship + 2.” We need to make a commitment to regular worship (online or in-person, when the timing is right). We also need to participate in a group that deepens our spiritual life and we need to serve others in a way that brings out our gifts and talents. As we grow as disciples, we have the capacity to impact others.
An additional consideration is the simple steps, or everyday practices, that can make a big difference:
- Mention your church in casual conversation. Talk about Lovely Lane to others. Be proud of your local church.
- Say “grace” at meals, anywhere and everywhere. Others might follow.
- Be careful with your language. Avoid saying “good luck.” Say, “peace” or “blessings.” Use words that reflect your faith.
- Do one or two random acts of kindness each week. This becomes contagious.
- Intentionally pray for a particular person, or persons, outside your normal circle.
Together, we can make a difference in the lives of others and share the faith. Might we commit to some extra steps we can take in the New Year!
With Joy in 2021!