The Next Great Religion, and What to do About it.

According to this article, it isn’t a religion at all.  It’s a new category called ‘the Nones.’ 

Image

The Last Supper, by Duccio di Buoninsegna

The number of atheists, agnostics, and ‘nones’ are growing.  While this might be scary to many Christians, it has actually been a good thing.  This forces Christians to consider the answers to difficult questions about religion and the existence of God.  In other words, it  keeps us honest.  Or at least it should.

The growth of the ‘nones’ should also motivate Christians to be self-critical: How well are representing our faith in Christ?  Or are we even choosing to represent Christ at all, choosing instead to retreat inside the walls of the church building?

You may not feel equipped to talk with an aggressive atheist or a hardened skeptic, but let me suggest one thing the church can do right now:

There is a saying: People want to belong, not just believe. We were created to be in relationship with others and with God, and yet so many people live in isolation.  Churches can help meet this need. They can offer a sense of belonging and of knowing each other.  Rather than just inviting people to go to church, we should look for ways to help the unchurched belong. This is where table fellowship can be so important.

This is something atheism can never do. Atheism produces organizations, but it does not create community. It might create a sense of shared identity, but this type of ‘community’ seems to be based solely on disbelief and a dislike of religion.  However, give people a place to belong, and you can give them reason to believe.

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About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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3 Responses to The Next Great Religion, and What to do About it.

  1. Linda says:

    Heard about this last week on the news. It seems to be the younger generation that is having no religious affiliation. Something to think about for the vision of the church.

  2. Carol says:

    First of all, we recognize that Jesus has already done the work of salvation and redemption. Man cannot expand on that. So, to say that we have not done enough, I am not buying that.
    Man can only cling to the Truth we know, share it where and when we can, and uphold the Word of God.
    So many young adults today—and also the not-so-young– have been deluded by the great deceiver, Satan, and their ears have been stopped up! I am horrified when I hear adults who should know better speak against Biblical truths. You can fill in the blanks here; I cite monogamous traditional marriage as modeled in the Bible.
    I can only pray that God’s will be done….and I know that is the way it will work out.
    It’s Biblical that men will fall away in the last days. That is happening at alarming speed now.
    Is this not God’s plan?

  3. Janice says:

    I wish I knew how to get through to the young adults that Satan is sucking into his evil thinking. I also do not understand how people can overlook the Biblical truths or change the meaning to suit themselves. My prayer is that they will see the light before it is too late.

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