The Church Home: A Refuge in an Information-Overload Era?

Generations ago people wore hats to church on Sunday. Now they’re more likely to come with duct tape wrapped around their heads to prevent them from exploding from the 7-24 infusion of breaking news and cultural revision. Could it be that the constant cultural change blaring from our televisions, radios and the Internet on sites like Drudge, regurgitated on Facebook and Twitter and various blogs and forums is leaving us overwhelmed and searching for something truly constant?

Could it be that Southern Baptists are yearning for a well-preached, on-target sermon, a clear and consistent Bible study and a calming and encouraging worship experience to remind them that God is indeed still in control? Could it be we need the day of rest back again?

Overwhelming?

Just a quick look at the news our church members will be mulling over today: a rewriting of the nation’s health care system . . . the ramping down of America’s missile defense . . . ACORN using tax dollars to help set up houses of prostitution . . . a UN report that 750,000 pedophiles are prowling the Internet . . . the continuing war in Afghanistan . . . a growing threat of nukes in Iran . . . charges of racism by Jimmy Carter . . . confusion over whether the recession is or is not ending. And that’s just a little bit of the national news. And most of it is “not good.”

No wonder the tea parties drew such a crowd. People want answers. People want to be heard. People are overwhelmed. What is a people to do?

Could it be that the time is ripe to remind people that the Good News is never-changing? That His answers are ever the same? That He never fails to listen?

Can Uncertainty Rebuild Loyalty?

Facts and Trends magazine, in a 2007 study, measured the loyalty of local churchgoers to the current church they attend and found there’s a lot of movement. The average length of time American Protestant adults attended the same church was 13.7 years. However, according to the study, if you factor out the really long-timers, it’s more like 6.6 years.

.Among the denominations, Baptists had higher percentages of participation, with about 46% of their members attending church regularly, but they still tend to be looking over the fence to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. Lutherans ranked pretty high, but their convention delegates recent approval of a measure allowing partnered lesbian and gay persons to serve in ministry will probably affect their loyalty ranking considerably.

Church loyalty has reflected cultural trends for some time, with people being attracted in throngs to the latest and greatest incarnation of the church, many of them to the mega-church, trendy itself and constantly-changing to keep up with cultural shifts. Interestingly, the non-denominational churches which tend to attract the drifting members of large denominations can’t seem to hold on to them. Members of those churches move on to other churches every 3.9 years. The seekers keep seeking.

I’m just wondering if, in this time of uncertainty that some people might want some surety. The church home.

That’s what I always heard it was. Home. My church family. A place where you can take off the duct tape and relax a bit, be restored and equipped to take on what the world throws at you. Our church home should be place that reflects the cultural trends that fit the values of the family and don’t mimic and shift with every declaration.

What are you finding? Are people coming home? And, if they do, do they recognize it?

Comments

  1. Thom Hunter says

    For the Readers:

    I thought, since I mentioned an earlier study that reflected percentages on people who leave churches for other churches, that perhaps a link to a more recent study might be in order, this one focusing more on people switching denominations, or leaving religion entirely. This information is from the Pew Research Forum and is from 2009. Here’s an excerpt and a link to the research:

    “The reasons people give for changing their religion – or leaving religion altogether – differ widely depending on the origin and destination of the convert. The group that has grown the most in recent years due to religious change is the unaffiliated population. Two-thirds of former Catholics who have become unaffiliated and half of former Protestants who have become unaffiliated say they left their childhood faith because they stopped believing in its teachings, and roughly four-in-ten say they became unaffiliated because they do not believe in God or the teachings of most religions.1 Additionally, many people who left a religion to become unaffiliated say they did so in part because they think of religious people as hypocritical or judgmental, because religious organizations focus too much on rules or because religious leaders are too focused on power and money. Far fewer say they became unaffiliated because they believe that modern science proves that religion is just superstition.” — http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=409

    Thanks,

    Thom

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