The Nones Aren’t Done (Yet)
Hold the presses! There’s an interesting article in the New York Times today. It suggests the “Nones” aren’t done. Not by a long shot. And this is good news for the Church.
Evidently, more and more secular students are attending divinity school as part of their life calling and desire to experience community. As one Harvard Divinity student opined, “I wanted to create a meaningful community that came together based on a shared goal rather than a shared religious creed.”
In other words, Faith matters but friendships matter first to those without Faith. On face value this implies Faith isn’t important but that’s not true nor the point. What the “nones” hunger for is community and conversation about things that matter (including Faith). Of course, it’s not central to their lives…yet…nor we shouldn’t expect it. But the good news is they still seem to know where to go to discover community.
This also proves the NONES (those who check “none” for religious affiliation) are not necessarily DONE. They’re very open to spirituality, even Christianity. The problem is these types (which tend to embrace more liberal Protestant theology) don’t want lectures or passive liturgy. What they hunger for is community and conversation. Consequently, churches that embrace more communal, interactive, experiential frames will resonate with the NONES.
So what’s your church look like on Sunday morning?
- Do the majority in attendance sing or is it pretty much a one-band show?
- Is there time for meaningful conversation or is the “meat and greet” moment pretty much it?
- Are there places to linger and congregate or are people shuffled in and out of the facility for the next service?
- Is there opportunity to talk about the message or does the preacher do all the talking?
- Are there testimonies by average Joes and Janes or is the stage and microphone only for the polished and professional?
- Do you invest time into communal experiences like baptism and communion or treat these sacraments as religious activities to do quickly, superficially or conveniently?
The heartbeat of Christianity is INCARNATIONAL experiences. Messy births that produce Messianic moments. Maybe every Sunday should be like Christmas and Easter rolled into one. A time to conceive, confirm and celebrate what God is doing and crucify, bury and resurrect new missions that serve, salve and save.
For the past century the local church has largely emphasized programming. What it seems to now need is a Personal Touch.
After all, when the Church becomes HUMAN again, creating conversation and community (rather than stiff and staged programs) that invoke Transformation and Mission, I believe it’ll find fresh relevance in today’s 21C postmodern culture.
The “nones” are waiting.