“The Future of Christianity” Most Read 2012 Post on “Naturalspirituality”
I have to conclude that where Christianity is going is one of the topics most on people’s minds today… at least the minds of my subscribers and others who find this blog. I have reason to think that it is indeed more broadly on many people’s minds, at least in this country (USA, for my many visitors from other countries… and “Welcome” to you… feel free to comment or ask questions, even if you are not from this country — we ARE increasingly a “global village”). In terms of this blog, my “The Future of Christianity” article was far and away the most viewed post in 2012.
Not only do I think such an intense interest in the future of Christianity and in the internal debates and dialogues it is having is broad in the US, I think it is also a relatively recent development. Do you sense the same thing? Maybe it’s especially in the last 2-3 years? Or maybe 5-10?One related thing I’ve blogged about is the “Nones” phenomenon, or the rapid increase in the percentage of Americans calling themselves “unaffiliated” with any religion. A lot of these people have recently “unaffiliated” themselves, while an increasing number are also growing up unaffiliated. But many from both these groups do have an interest in spirituality.
I know that many, while unaffiliated, are visiting churches, are reading blogs (perhaps this one included), are looking around to see if religious groups can demonstrate deeper spirituality, community, compassion and such heart-felt human needs, and sometimes intellectual concern and consistency as well.
A concern for the future of Christianity comes from within its institutional walls as well as from the fringes and the outside. Most church leaders give the issue a lot of thought. On one “end” that is by those who are fearful, threatened that “The Gospel” has lost its influence on the culture and may continue to be “watered down” and distorted. On the other end, many progressives (or “liberals”) have reason to fear the dying of much of the “mainline” — whether the relative lifelessness of their congregations or the physical death of an aging membership not replenished by younger people.
So what might we be able to make out through the fog of shifting views of religion in recent years? Is there some place all types of Christians can fit in… and a way we can all get along? Are there some discernible outlines amid the murkiness?
Please share your perceptions….
I will offer only one thought for now: The culture is indeed maturing, though lurchingly. Conservative churches and conservatively oriented people are “doubling down” because the changes can indeed be unsettling, even if accepted, and are sometimes seen to threaten one’s very identity. Those churches and individuals more progressive and embracing of change generally have not yet figured out how their faith is, in fact, still a spirituality of some sort — more than rational and scientific on one hand and culturally relevant and social on the other.
The latter group still needs to grow, as does the former. In fact, further growth on progressives’ part may be required to better engage with the more conservative and traditional folks. Their renewed vitality will demonstrate that movement in beliefs as well as underlying faith is both possible and necessary lest Christianity overall become stuck and stagnant — something it is perilously close to now, though I don’t expect to happen.