We have two distinct spiritual camps in America. Their distinctives predict where they’ll be this Sunday.
Both camps consider themselves quite spiritually oriented. George Barna’s research shows that 88% of the nation’s adults say their faith is important in their life. And 74% say faith is becoming more important to them.
But how they express and develop their faith reveals a big divide between the two camps.
Let’s call the first group the Church-Inclined camp. Their expression of faith is closely tied to church attendance. They feel a compunction and duty to gather with other believers for a regular worship service. And that worship experience follows the same formula they’ve known all their lives. It’s always consisted of about half sing-along music and half lecture. For them, it works.
We’ll call the other group the Church-Declined. The old church formula just doesn’t work for them. And it likely never will. Barna reports that these people are part of the majority (64%) of the population who say they are “completely open to carrying out and pursuing their faith in an environment or structure that differs from that of a typical church.” And, 75% believe that “God is motivating them to connect with Him through different means and experiences than were common in the past.”
So, for church leaders, we see two messages:
1. Keep serving your flock (the Church-Inclined) with the tried-and-true legacy forms of ministry that connect these people with God.
2. If you care about the Church-Declined, look for very different ways to engage them. Barna says they “revel in participation, personal expression, satisfying relationships, and authentic experiences.”
For the sake of Christ, it’s not either/or. It’s both/and.