In October 2012 there was a report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that reveals people in the United States are losing their religion.
Here is the main graph from the report:
From the poll, 20% of the people in the US say they are unaffiliated with a religion and this includes agnostics and atheists. That means 1 out of every 5 people in the US has no connection to any religion.
A deeper dive into the poll data shows that this increase in people being unaffiliated with religion can be attributed to younger people.
The rise in people who characterize themselves as unaffiliated with religion comes almost exclusively from Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1994).
There was one other piece of this report that I feel is noteworthy:
88% of those who are unaffiliated with a religion ARE NOT LOOKING! Gone are the days when churches worked to minister to those who were called ‘seekers’ because the people who aren’t religious are not seeking.
So what does this data tell us?
Just because someone isn’t affiliated with an official religion doesn’t mean that person can’t be considered a believer in a particular religion. A Christian doesn’t have to belong to an officially recognized church to be still considered in the Church/Faith. These people can still fellowship and worship with others in homes or other places outside of any organized religion but I have to believe that the vast majority of people who characterized themselves as unaffiliated with any religion don’t fall into this special exception.
The US is on a path to become a nation where a majority of its citizens are not associated with any religion. Drawing a trend line on the first graph shows that every 5 years the number of people who are unaffiliated with a religion increases by 5 percentage points so that means in 30 years half the people in the US will fall into that category.
And that estimate is conservative because as this NPR story shows, the percent of the US population that are unaffiliated with religion has increased significantly over the past decade.
So it is quite possible that in one more generation we could see a majority of US citizens unaffiliated with any religion.
As a citizen of the US and one who is passionate about individual liberties, the fact that more Americans are not affiliated with a religion is not that troublesome to me. Being affiliated with a religion is not, in itself, anti-American because this country was founded on Freedom of Religion and this also means respecting the Rights of individuals to decline religious affiliations.
But as a Christian and someone who has experienced the saving Grace of Jesus Christ, this data from Pew upsets me.
This data shows that Christians are not doing the work that we are called to do. The Bible is very clear that Christians are not to be relegated to a hermit lifestyle and keep this Gospel to ourselves. Jesus, as our example, lived and ministered to those who needed His help and we should too. The marching orders for Christians are very simple – Come and See, Go and Tell. Once we have come and seen the risen Christ (through a realization that our sins are covered through the death and resurrection of Jesus) we are then commanded to go and tell others.
When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?
When was the last time you lived your life so that others would see you and realize that there was something inside you that set you apart from the world?
When was the last time someone asked you why you go to church on Sunday?
Gone are the days when we could rely on preachers in buildings reaching those who are lost and needing God’s Grace. Large stadiums are not filled with people hearing Billy Graham preach the Gospel.
God could’ve set up a system where angels periodically appeared to people and shared the Gospel but the Creator of the Universe didn’t choose to do that. Like it or not, ALL Christians have the responsibility to spread the Gospel and share our testimonies with those who need to hear it. This is not the time to stay in your comfort zone.
People need the Lord, now more than ever.