Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Study finds one-half of Americans change religion when they move

A recent study finds that about half of Americans change religions when they move. See http://news.aol.com/story/_a/survey-finds-religious-landscape-in-flux/20080225170509990001. For decades, Americans had been very loyal to a particular denomination. There were many reasons for this. A slower, more stable pace of life did not encourage as much change. There was a greater emphasis upon what a person believes and having that be correct. There was a "brand" loyalty mentality in the culture, with a person being a lifelong "Ford" man or "Chevy" man. (Now it would be "person" rather than man.)

Things, however, have changed. As people live farther away from family and the people with whom they grew up, they are able to more easily "change religions." Because people move so much, they are likely to respond to the first group that shows them warmth, kindness, and friendship. People are dealing with problems in life, and so they will gravite to churches that provide practical help in relationships. And younger generations are much more concerned about lived out truth--moral living, ministry to the poor, care for the earth, service to the community--than propositional truth. (Right living vs. Right thinking)

While many are disturbed by this shift in the culture, I view this as a great opportunity. Think about this--50% of people who are not Christian will consider becoming Christian when they move! Fifty percent of those who have different belief systems--including those who seem to have some wrong beliefs--will consider becoming a part of a church if they are only shown love, kindness, and real Christianity.

It is up to us to be a part of this kind of church, to be this kind of church. Christianity ought to be more than a set of beliefs. It ought to be real. Authentic. Lived out. Show people Christ, help them to start living like Christ, and the beliefs will come.

What do you think of this study? Are you encouraged or discouraged by these findings?