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How People View the Church Today

18 Oct. 2012 Posted by Denis Greene in Stewardship

Church Development delves a little deeper into the latest changes in religious makeup in the U.S.

Last time, I covered the latest report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. It noted that, for the first time, Protestants are not the religious majority in the U.S. at 48% (down from 53% in 2008). Also of note, those listed as unaffiliated from any religion rose from 15% in 2008 to 20% in 2012 -- a number that is likely to continue to go up.

However, there was a quote from the executive summary that really stood out to me:

The survey, conducted jointly with PBS' Religion & Ethics News Weekly, "finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as 'spiritual' but not 'religious' (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor... Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics."

Much of that is common these days: Many people want to be "spiritual, not religious" and they don't feel like they need to be affiliated with an organized church to express that. Interestingly enough, on the positive side, people view church as strengthening community bonds, yet studies suggest that as a society we're growing increasingly lonelier. Again, on the positive side, people view churches as aiding the poor, but think we're too concerned with money (a large amount I hope we'd dedicate to helping the poor and those in need).

However, I believe that last sentence on church's perceived values is important. In the end, the truth of Jesus needs to be our number one priority. Whether or not people receive that is another thing, but it's still healthy to have a heart check on how we're spending our time and resources.

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Denis Greene is the Founder and President of Church Development.  He is the author of The Stewardship SystemStewardship-Based Capital Campaigns, and How To Ask For Donations as well as numerous articles on stewardship. Denis has helped over 200 churches across the USA raise more than $200,000,000.

A complete list of Church Development’s services (including capital campaign management and consultation, feasibility studies, and year-round stewardship ministry programming) is available here.