Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The Rise of the "Nones"

Various media outlets (I've seen and heard it everywhere from the Drudge Report to NPR to the NBC Nightly News) have been reporting the results of a research study on religious life in America released today from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (read it here).

The main gist of the report is that more and more Americans do not claim any religious affiliation (hence "The rise of the 'Nones'").  Here are a few highlights:
  • 1 in 5 adults have no religious affiliation
  • This increase has accelerated in just the last 5 years.  In 2007 15% claimed no religious affiliation compared to 20% in 2012.
  • The number of those who identify as Protestant has declined to significantly under 50% for the first time since the Pew research report began.  In 2007 53% identified as Protestant and in 2012 only 48%.
As a pastor and church planter I was also intrigued by this graph:

Of those who claim no religious affiliation, 88% say they are not looking to find a religion with which to affiliate.  Hardly a generation of seekers!  No wonder our efforts to reach the lost is often met with a ho-hum response.
These statistics reflect the continuing nose-dive of mainline Protestants and are likely also an indictment of the failures of evangelical-Protestant efforts in recent decades to woo young adults via contemporary worship, seeker sensitive services, and youth oriented programming.  Young people who remain faithful to the Lord will be an evermore curious and pecular witness among their peers.
Of course, these statistics also encourage us to continue to be faithful in holding forth the simple and unadorned gospel.  When Christ builds his church the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. 

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