Casual Christianity

Excerpt taken from this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/23/im-pastor-and-want-to-quit-church-now.html

“Only 39 percent of active believers consider the Bible as the literal word of God. Only 5 percent have shared their faith with a non-believer. More than half of all church members attend church once a month or less.

If we quit the casual way we approach God’s principles can you imagine what would happen in our personal walks of faith and in our community of believers?

My conversations over the past several years revealed the spiritual habits necessary for personal and church growth and revealed the “why” behind disengagement in the church.

The truth is, if we don’t feel passionate about something we don’t do it. If we don’t like something that happens in the church, we find another one. If the spiritual practices don’t fit our lifestyle, then we don’t do them.

This mindset permeates our “I want it now and I want it my way” culture and is only enforced through social media, website choices, TV options and countless other platforms that have risen in prominence in our lives. This is not the way God intended the church to live.

Jesus felt the church was worth dying for – it should be our mission as Christians to value living for it.”

Sharing Faith

“When was the last time you had a conversation about God? For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”

“A growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 who had shared about their faith agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual (i.e., themselves). Twenty-five years later, three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility (29%), a nearly threefold increase.”

“The truth is, most Christians are busy with other things: the day-to-day of normal life—jobs, kids, budgets, sports, weather and what’s premiering on Netflix this week. None of this is bad, but the unfortunate reality is that most adults don’t seem to connect their everyday experiences with their faith. Or, at least, they aren’t talking about it if they do.”

“Followers of Christ have something essential and meaningful to share with their families, neighbors, friends and those they come into contact with,” … We ought to help Christians begin to make the connections between their everyday, ordinary life—their sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and the faith that sustains them.”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/sharing-faith-increasingly-optional-christians/

Prayer in America

This is from Barna Research about Prayer in America:
“What we found gives us a much more nuanced portrait of the American prayer life. The most notable aspect of which is it’s individual quality. People pray mostly alone—it is a solitary activity defined primarily by the immediate needs and concerns of the individual. Corporate prayer and corporate needs are less compelling drivers in people’s prayer lives.”

“Though the vast majority of praying adults (89%) direct their prayers to “God,” they don’t all pray to the same god (if they pray to a deity at all). For instance, only half of praying adults (50%) pray to Jesus, and less than one-quarter (23%) pray to the Holy Spirit.”

“American adults who pray with regularity do so with varying motivations, the most common being to offer “gratitude and thanksgiving” (62%). Generationally, this is lowest among Millennials (53%) and highest among Boomers (71%). An equally popular prayer incentive is the “needs of their family and community” (61%), followed by “personal guidance in crisis” (49%). ”

“The generation most willing to cover prayer requests from others are Elders (47%), who are almost twice as likely to do so than Millennials (27%). Just less than half of praying adults (47%) most often direct prayers toward their own health and wellness.

“Almost all American adults (94%) who have prayed at least once in the last three months most often choose to pray by themselves. Not only are most prayers a solo practice, but the vast majority are also most often silent (82% compared to 13% audible and solo prayers). Affirming this shift is the fact that only a very small percentage most often pray audibly with another person or group (2%), or collectively with a church (2%).”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/silent-solo-americans-pray/

Authenticity

Insight into the need for authentic and sincere Christians to practically live out their faith, and to openly address challenging issues.

 

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith
David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings
: Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.

 

Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations
Vern L. Bengtson. Norella M. Putney, Susan Harris, Oxford University Press (2013)

Book Findings: Several key findings were discovered in this 35-year study of families, focusing on the question of how religion is passed across generations:

1. Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith.
2. When a child sees and hears that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives, they’re much more likely to follow suit.
3. Young adults are more likely to share their parents’ religious beliefs and participation if they feel that they have a close relationship with those parents.
4. Young Christians who leave the faith are far more likely to return when parents have been patient and supportive – and perhaps more tolerant and open than they had been before the prodigal’s departure.

 

Source: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2018/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/

What We Don’t Want to Hear

Things not to say to your single friends:

“YOU WILL MEET SOMEONE WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT.”

“YOU MUST HAVE SO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS!”

“SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MEET PEOPLE?  ARE YOU PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE?  HAVE YOU TRIED ONLINE DATING?”

“IF BEING MARRIED IS A DESIRE OF YOUR HEART, THEN GOD WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.”

“YOU’RE JUST TOO PICKY.”

 

Source: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/life/ten-things-not-to-say-to-single-people/

Holiness of God

Statement: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.
Finding: 61% of all participants strongly disagree with this statement.

“The results jump off the page as the strongly disagree column spikes to 61%. That conviction is fundamentally a conviction about the character of God. If he is perfectly holy and just, he cannot let sin go unpunished. But God is no longer holy—in the minds of six out of ten Americans.”

Source: https://thestateoftheology.com/

Ethics

“What we believe shapes how we behave. As we see evangelicals slipping away from foundational beliefs, we also see them rejecting biblical teaching on Christian living. Convictions about the key ethical issues that previously defined evangelical ethics, especially in the public sphere, are weakening as church attendance slackens.”

Statement: Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.
Finding: Only 52% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.

Statement: Abortion is a sin.
Finding: Only 48% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.

 

Source: https://thestateoftheology.com/

Beliefs of Christian Young Adults

Findings about the spiritual life of young adults.

The State of Theology
Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research (2015)

Study Findings: In this survey of theological beliefs, researchers asked self-professing Christians to respond to a series of statements related to classic, historic Christian doctrine. In every answer offered related to these theological beliefs, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents. Young people who identify themselves as Christians, are far more likely to hold views that aren’t Christian.

 

 

Source: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2018/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/

Online Dating

A few struggles that online dating presents.

Some interesting thoughts taken from this article: http://timharford.com/2016/02/online-dating-swipe-left/

We badly want to believe that after giving a website a list of our preferences, hobbies and answers to questions such as, “Do you prefer the people in your life to be simple or complex?”, a clever algorithm will produce a pleasing result.

Because these pleasing results seem elusive, wishful thinking has gone into overdrive.

It is crazy to believe that someone’s eye colour and height, or even hobbies and musical tastes, are a basis for a lasting relationship.

A simple survey that Norton conducted with two other behavioural scientists, Jeana Frost and Dan Ariely, revealed that people were unhappy with their online dating experience in three obvious ways. The first was that the “online” bit of the dating was about as much fun as booking a dentist’s appointment. The second was that it took for ever. This was the third problem: people tended to have high expectations before the dates they had arranged online but felt disenchanted afterwards. To adapt a Woody Allen joke: not only are the dates terrible but there are so few of them.

Given that online dating tends to be tedious, time-consuming and fruitless, it is no surprise that we seem hungry for a better way.

Soul Mate

Is there really only one perfect person for each of us to marry, and if you don’t marry that person than you won’t be happy? Some thoughts to consider:

If this is true, than what about Christians who have married non-Christians? The Bible is clear about the truth that Christians should marry Christians (because what we believe affects how we act and live). So if a Christian married a non-Christian, what happened to their perfect soul mate? Are they left out because their perfect soul mate married someone else?

What about a death of a Christian spouse? I know faithful Christians who have lost a spouse and eventually remarried later in life. Did they have two perfect soul mates?

If we each have a perfect soul mate, than how do we know when we have found the right one?

May I suggest that the idea of a perfect soul mate, may be erroneous? Biblically speaking the most important thing is finding someone who is a Christian who truly fears the Lord, or desires to do what is pleasing to God above all else. Love and marriage is not about how perfectly people fit together. Rather, love is a willful choice. God loves us not because we are easy to love, but because He simply graciously chose to love us. The same goes for our relationships; no one is easy to love, but we can choose to love them and remain committed even when things aren’t perfect.

Perhaps it’s not about finding your perfect soul mate, but rather finding a committed Christian who together are willing to make it work.