For the past couple of years, I’ve been paying closer attention to all the writing and statistics about “the death of the church in America.” Church attendance has been dropping drastically for twenty years. Now, something like 30% of people under 30 no longer find any consolation or felt need for God or religion. As you can imagine, many in the Christian tradition are quite disturbed. Blame is cast in several directions.
The Influence of God is Tough to “Measure”
But I wonder… is there something else going on? As a Christian myself, oddly enough, I have only moderate concern over the issue. I think many people (especially younger adults) are searching for a truth that can only be discovered by interventions from the Divine. In my mind, the influence of God in our lives cannot be measured by stats like “attendance.” Deity stands far outside human scales of quantification.
In our current “age” I believe we are getting to experience, firsthand, a rather substantive transformation/evolution of Christian practices. I wonder if God is in the process of “undoing” our religious errors. Have we become so religious that we have somehow manipulated the intentions of God? For me, the desire of God begins with a loving connection to his creation.
Nothing else really matters… well, other things matter… they just don’t matter as much as intimate connection.
Our Innate Quest for the Holy
In a podcast with brilliant theologian Barbara Brown Taylor, host Krista Tippett made the point that we have, buried in each of us, a quest for the mysterious or “the holy.” In our hearts, each of us most likely will come to the realization that life must be more than what we are currently experiencing. Such reckonings will lead us, as Krista says, to explore our “core impulses.”
I have a few people very close to me that are going through the process of exploring their own core impulses. Their first response is often to reject what they have been taught in childhood and young adulthood. I see this as a maturation process where they are moving from a “second-hand belief” which they adopted from parents and friends and teachers to a firsthand belief that they own for themselves. This confounding and troubling transition can make some older (and often more controlling) adults a bit nervous and concerned.
Let God Play God
Personally, I have decided not to play God in these scenarios. As much as I may care about someone else’s beliefs about the Divine, I care far less than God does. The truth is, holy intimacy (and responsiveness to core impulses) can only be discovered in the domain of God.
Ultimately, this is a matter of trusting the nature of the Divine, the Grand Lover who desires to receive the love of his creation.
Make no mistake, this is a “God deal.” My role is simply to pray and demonstrate the love of God.
Thoughts? I am interested.
Just Because the Church May Be in Decline
Does Not Indicate God Is
Photo courtesy of Bratislav Stefanovic at istockphoto