The Barna Group recently conducted research that reveals the church suffers from a disconnect from non-church goers. Their research revealed only 21% of non-church goers have a positive view of the local church.Truth be told, it is not just local churches. It is pastors as well, to a lesser degree. Only 48%of non-church goers trust pastors in their community. These trends are even more pronounced among Millennials, those aged 22-36.
In reviewing the data, we also find even church going Millennials have a less positive view of the church than their elders.
Pastor and church planter Carey Nieuwhof calls this a “self-awareness issue.” He explains it is important for us in the church to reflect on who we are and what it is that creates the divide between us and the unchurched and us and those who are younger. Somewhere there is a deep disconnect and we owe it to God, our neighbors, and ourselves to do a deep dive of discernment and consider how we can be bridge builders in our community. It would be easy to blame the unchurched and Millennials. However, what if we listened to those who have a less positive view of the church and seek to reflect on how we can grow so that we can build more trust in our community.
The key here is that, while the numbers suggest a crisis, we have an opportunity to renew the mission to which we are called and to find continued spiritual growth in the process. In fact, a recent PRRI survey suggests that White Mainline Protestants have grown in proportion to the total population and the number of religiously unaffiliated has declined. It seems the needed self-reflection may be occuring already. This is an opportunity to grow in deeper relationship with those around us and to see God at work in us, through us, and around us. May we embrace the opportunity God is providing.
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen