Monday, January 28, 2013

1 in 4, 3 in 4, & the 27%...

I am always amazed at those who excel in math.   While I found Algebra and Geometry doable, I never had a class in Calculus, Quantum Physics or Statistics. I hope I am not the poorer for it. Yet, I am fascinated by some modern day stats and what they mean.

I read one the other day that I found most thought provoking. Diana Butler Bass, an innovative researcher and thinker about America and religion, has written a book titled, Christianity after Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. In her research she found that 1 in 4 young adults say they have no religious affiliation.  According to Bass, “They describe themselves as spiritual, not religious, and they are now the third-largest group of believers in America.”

She raises an interesting question:  could it be the churchpocalypse? You know, the end of church as we know it? Or, as she believes, could it be what God ordered to revitalize our ministry and message?

I wonder what you think? I wonder what it will take for us to become a part of a new spiritual awakening? I wonder what it will look like, and if any of us who have spent all of our lives in a church will see this new awakening, if and when it comes?   

But what about the 3 in 4 young adults who have a religious affiliation? Are they finding meaning in their churches? What changes would they like to see? I wonder if any would like to return to the time of more, and not less tradition and established rituals?  

Like I said, I never had a class in Statistics, but shouldn’t we listen to the 3 in 4 as intently as we do the 1 in 4? I don’t know, what do you think?

Then I heard on NPR a stat that I found hard to believe. It said that today only 27% of Americans do volunteer work. I found that number to be low, really low.  I would have guessed it was closer to 75%. Shows how little I know.

When it comes to volunteering, do you think a 27% participation rate is high or low? I wonder if it is increasing or decreasing? I wonder what the other 73% are doing in their free time if not volunteering?

I guess I am spoiled because I see an amazing number of volunteers every single day at Sardis. I see members doing all kinds of service around here and in the community. Not long ago I actually went through the church pictorial directory and discovered that almost everyone was involved doing something. Why Sardis would fall to her knees if only 27% of the members volunteered!

I wonder if those 3 in 4 young people have found something to believe in, and that’s why they’ve stuck around? I think so. And I believe that Sardis can be a place where they connect to a community filled with unselfish volunteers who follow God with their whole hearts and take seriously the commission to go and make disciples and be servants of all.

Who knows? This kind of church just might engage the 1 in 4 wandering around without a community of faith, too.

What brings you the most joy when you volunteer?


  1. What brings you the most joy when you volunteer? - Seeing the smile it produces, whether implied or expressed. There is a joy that may be created in both the volunteer and the one(s) being served.

  2. I think volunteering is what really helps me feel connected to the church community. I love being able to contribute more than just attending worship on Sundays.

    I ♥ Sardis!