I continue to wonder about our nation, its future and the impact of its churches. I have heard statistics for those who attend church regularly, that is weekly, ranging from 15% in some states to an average of 43% nationally. One survey indicated that America had the 11th highest church attendance on the globe, yet this material was at least as old as 2006, possibly even from earlier stats.
“Week after week, no matter how wretched the stock market or how high rates for home foreclosures and unemployment claims rise: About 42% say they go to church at least weekly, 12% go monthly; 26% go seldom and 20% never go.
Neither has there been any shift in the number of people — two in three — who say religion is important in their lives.
So what’s with all the upbeat stories, starting with the New York Times last fall, claiming that evangelical churches saw a boomlet in attendance as the economy soured? ”
I understand George Barna’s new book, The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter, outlines seven diverse faith segments, profiling their lifestyles, religious beliefs and practices, values and life goals.
These tribes are: casual Christians (66 percent of the U.S. population), captive Christians (16 percent), Jews (2 percent), Mormons (2 percent), pantheists (2 percent), Muslims (0.5 percent), and skeptics (11 percent).
“A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best.”
The big difference between Casual and Captives “is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.”
I also find interesting Barna’s 20 common values, shared by the faith tribes – including developing inner peace and purity, representing the truth, practicing self-restraint, respecting life, and being a good citizen – Americans can start to rebuild the country to one of civility, accountability, commitment and unity.
Not sure of my tribe or my confidence in our churches, but I know my heart: to serve God, to lead and love like Jesus and to preserve this great nation!