Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The antidote for me

Reading through the New York Times summary of the findings of the latest Pew report, this quote caught my eye: “The trend is towards more personal religion, and evangelicals offer that." I find this quote and trend very sad because I believe that a church which makes religion about ME is like following a dead-end road. I spent too long on that road before finally figuring out that worshiping God is not about ME; it's the ANTIDOTE for me. Here on this earth, I have no problem making nearly everything about me. It's my best (and worst) habit. We all do it, if we are honest with ourselves. Divine worship is that brief respite FROM me.

While the ranks of the unaffiliated have been growing, Protestantism has been declining, the survey found. In the 1970s, Protestants accounted for some two-thirds of the population. The Pew survey found they now make up about 50 percent. Evangelical Christians account for a slim majority of Protestants, and those who leave one evangelical denomination usually move to another, rather than to mainline churches. Prof. Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University, said large numbers of Americans leaving organized religion and large numbers still embracing the fervor of evangelical Christianity pointed to the same desires. “The trend is towards more personal religion, and evangelicals offer that,” Professor Prothero said, explaining that evangelical churches tailored much of their activities to youths. “Those losing out are offering impersonal religion,” he said, “and those winning are offering a smaller scale: mega-churches succeed not because they are mega but because they have smaller ministries inside.”

The Pew survey, available on the Web at http://religions.pewforum.org/, was conducted between May and August of 2007.

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