Clergy and theologians — people invested in the significance of doctrine — may be dismayed by the newest Pew findings but they can hardly be surprised. An array of surveys in the last two years have detailed the swirling, unbounded paths of believers. The data show:
• Between 47% and 59% of Americans have changed religions at least once, according to a Pew survey released in April. Top reasons for most: Their spiritual needs weren’t being met or they liked another faith more or changed their religious or moral beliefs.
• The percentage of people who call themselves some type of Christian has dropped more than11% in a generation, and so many people declined to label themselves with any religion that the so-called “Nones,” now 15%, are the nation’s third largest “religious” category after Catholics and Baptists, according to the latest American Religious Identification Survey released in March 2009.
• Despite Americans’ overwhelming allegiance to someone they call God (92%), Pew’s 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey of 35,000 Americans also found a “stunning” dismissal of institutional religion: 70% said “many religions can lead to eternal life” and 68% said “there’s more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.”
• Most (55%) say a guardian angel has protected them from harm, and 52% believe in prophetic dreams, according to surveys by the Baylor University Institute of Religion released in 2008 and 2006.
From USA Today®
So What about Australia?
Whilst this survey was conducted in the USA, the bastion of “evangelical Christianity”, the results although alarming, are not surprising. One can only wonder what the results would be if it had been carried out in Australia; we suspect the outcome would be very similar.
Should we expect anything different given the “illiteracy of the laity”?
It is our prayer that in some significant way, God will empower HBC to address this “illiteracy” – a mission to which God has called Hills Bible Church.
If you share this God-given passion, and live in our area, we urge you to join with us. Together with God, we can make a difference!
I would love to attend a church that believes the Bible, speaks the truths of the Bible, and lives the Bible……for it is the Word of God. Unfortunately, I would have to travel 9,469 miles one-way each week to be with you. 🙁
It is for the reasons you suggest at Aaron’s blog that makes church in the USA so difficult. We seem to prefer to feel good, than become good by drawing closer to God. Reverence and holiness take a backseat to loud music that makes God seem close, but it is only feelings. Feelings are not good or bad; they just are. But once they are satisfied as a pseudo substitute for God, people stop looking for God. They settle for the OK instead of breathing and living with the ultimate and the best, Our Lord.
Many of my contemporaries in the USA are a rugged independent lot. They bow to no one politically, emotionally, relationally, or even family. So bowing to the Lord is most difficult for these believers, and there are many more of this type than Followers of Christ. They believe they are saved and going to heaven.
The most alarming part of scripture has folks pleading in the end:
“Lord! Lord! Let us in. Don’t you recognise us?”
(These are not regular folks; these are “believers” for they call Him “Lord” at that moment).
But the Lord replies: “Get away from me. I NEVER knew you”.
Whether baptist, catholic, evangelical, reformed, or any type of Follower of Christ you care to name, there will be many of all groups, that meet the fate described above.
Appallingly, the Lord NEVER knew them; but they believe they know Christ.
I pray your church fills itself with the extraordinary Christians of your community. They would be among the group that the Lord proclaims to them: “I KNOW you, and I know you well for you listened to my Word, believed, and Followed faithfully.
The remnant is alive and kicking. May it be enlarged through your efforts and lifestyle each day. May your church become a lighthouse beacon in your town.
The lights in the churches of my town have grown dim with disuse and distortions.
And your blog will grow in due time.
Harvesting takes time to prepare, plant, tend, grow, and reap.
But when the Lord says to all of you:
“Well done good and faithful servant”, nothing else will matter.
You are now in my RSS to read often.
More important, you are in my prayers to establish and grow a true Christian foillowing.
ps. it is after 2 am Monday morning here and I could not sleep. I got up to see how much snow has fallen, and all the trees are blanketed on every limb and branch. There is a peace amidst the beauty and silence.
May that also grow in your congregation too.
Then I read your comment at Blogging Theologically (also in my RSS) and decide to respond here instead of there. Blessings from across the continents.
Thanks for your encouraging comments to this and our previous post , Keystone. Your prayers join ours as we rely on God’s Spirit to apply the truth of His Word to our lives and the lives of those to whom we minister.
We are confident that God has called HBC to fulfill our mission which we have defined as: “To see that believers –KNOW God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15), LIVE by God’s Word (1 Peter 1:22 – 2:3), COMMIT to God’s work (Romans 12:1-2) and IMPACT God’s world (Matthew 28:18-20)”.
PS: As you enjoy the snow, we are enjoying warm summer weather currently around 27C degrees. I’d invite you over for a swim in our pool, but that would be like rubbing salt in a wound.
Speaking of prayer, Don, I ran across this post only today.
I think it ties in with your efforts to incorporate prayer to grow your church, and grow your blog.
Check it out:
I pondered your invitation [or lack of one] 🙂 to swim in your pool as I just finished the snowblower in my drive in gusty freezing blizzards.
Rather salt in a wound, the thought of our days getting longer and warmer, as yours nowe get shorter and perhaps cooler, a thought of hope and promise.
The Lord sends his invitation to all, to come to the Oasis that is Him.
Our world sees this as salt in a wound of the pleasures we seek, our needs being met by us, and missing the Joy that is Him. No wonder Jesus wept.
Thanks, friend. I particulary enjoyed the link you provided to Themelios. I know the site editor, Don Carson, personally. He was the pastor of our church many years ago in Vancouver Canada. It was his first pastorate – even then as a young man, it was obvious to most of us that God was going to use him insignificant ways for His Kingdom.
Thanks again, especially for commenting.