Moved by Compassion: A Heart for World Missions
Things that look really bad can actually be really good. Perspective makes the difference.
The Nones Are Coming
by Richard Atwood
What in the World is a None?
The Nones are people who claim no religious affiliation. According to an article in The Week magazine from November 6, 2009, a study by Trinity College found their numbers increasing. In 1990, eight percent of Americans claimed no religious affiliation. In this recent survey, that number had climbed to 15%. Their numbers are higher in the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest. Nones also have a higher percentage among younger people.
In Jesus Among Other Gods, Ravi Zacharias says, “Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim that it is a ‘better’ way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.”
Another survey by the National Opinion Research Center reveals that regular church attendance has fallen in the United States. In 1971, 41% of the population attended church regularly. In 2002, the number had dropped to 31%. Denominational loyalty has also eroded with churchgoers shopping around.
Southern Baptist researcher Brad Waggoner says, “There is no simple answer to why people are so restless.” Since younger people tend to be more nonreligious, some are concerned this may be a growing trend in America. Trinity demographer Ariela Keysar says secularism in the U.S. may one day rival the famed religious indifference of Europeans. “We’re not there,” she says, “but we are going in that direction.”
Hope for Nones
A slim majority of the Nones believe in God, and a third say they pray weekly or daily. Fewer than 10% call themselves atheists. Even though more than three million people in America claim to be atheists, that number is only one percent of our population. This is true in spite of an all-out war by evolutionists and atheists in books, curriculum, TV shows, etc.
Many of the people who leave organized religion are leaving liberal, unbelieving churches. It has been noted that a large number are leaving the Roman Catholic Church as well. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, states that the persecution in China during the Cultural Revolution wiped out theological liberalism. Maybe scandals and the liberal church’s lack of answers are starting to do the same thing here.
It has looked tough before. Spreading the gospel in the first century Roman Empire looked daunting. In the 1800s, infidel Robert Ingersoll claimed, “Churches are dying out all over the land.” A 1966 cover of Time magazine asked, “Is God Dead?” In each case, the church of God preached the truth and endured.
The devil would like for us to be discouraged and overwhelmed so we quit before we get started.
God is alive and well! He is working in America and in your town. Let us be realistic and admit that we have a challenge in America. At the same time, let us also remember that people still have needs only God can answer.
About the Writer: Richard Atwood is director of missionary assistance for Free Will Baptist Home Missions. Learn more at www.homemissions.net.