Dion's random ramblings

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Research shows that the 'Internet generation' are jumping from one faith to another.

This interesting story comes from John C Dvorak's blog. I wrote a paper last year that will be published in Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae in May this year in which I argue a similar point from the perspective of Southern African Christianity.

In short, many younger people no longer hold to a structured faith, there is a general lack of confidence in 'traditional religions' (mainly due to moral scandals such as pastors stealing the money of the needy, priests involved in sexual scandals etc.). Where persons do adhere to traditional religions (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc.) they tend to go for 'newer' iterations of such faiths. For example the fastest growing Christian movements in Southern Africa are independent 'North American' style healing and prosperity movements, and African independent Churches (having risen by 48% since 1910), whereas traditional Protestant Churches have shown a real world decline in membership ranging from less than 1% to 6-7% in the cases of some (e.g., the Dutch Reformed Church).

I would be interested to hear if your Church (i.e., your local congregation) reflects the outcomes of this research. Simply look at who worships on a Sunday and ask a few questions:

1. What is the average age of our congregation?
2. How many persons in our congregation are 'new' members?
3. How many of these 'new members' come from other Churches or faiths, and how many have come to faith in your Church for the first time?
4. How many members have you lost to 'independent' Churches in recent years?

It would be interesting to hear some feedback!

Here's Dvorak's article:

Christian Science Monitor - February 26, 2008:

A panoramic snapshot of American religious life in 2008 reveals an extraordinary dynamism that is reshaping the country?s major traditions in historic ways.

Almost half of Americans have moved to a different religious denomination from that in which they were raised, and 28 percent have switched to a different major tradition or to no religion (i.e., from Roman Catholic to Protestant, Jewish to unaffiliated).

The fluidity is combining with immigration to spur dramatic changes in the religious landscape. Protestantism appears on the verge of losing its majority status. The number of ?unaffiliated? Americans has doubled, to 16 percent. One-third of Catholics are now Latino and the religion is depending on immigration to maintain its share of the population.

These shifts are captured in a survey released Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

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  • Hi Dion
    I don't have accurate statistics - you can probably get them from Wes. But the last survey I did about 4 years ago revealed that 70% of our worshiping congregation was over the age of 45-50. 'New" members are 'moving into the area' Christians - new to us. I am not aware of anyone making a commitment since we stopped running Alpha 2 years ago. Our young adults (18 - 30 yrs)are transferring to 3CI (New Covenant Ministries International).
    We have stability - they have enthusiasm. We have tradition - they have challenge. We don't call for commitment - they do.
    So there you have it!

    By Blogger Beryl Donkin, at 12:48 AM  

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