Just saw this post in Religion News Service of an interview with a US sociologist of religion, Ryan Burge, on the steady growth of “Nones”, those who answer “None” when asked about their religious affiliation.
Two things caught my eye in this brief interview, First, the trend increases markedly by generation, with Millenials by far in the greatest number.
If you are still wondering what you did wrong because your adult children are no longer interested in faith, that’s not on you. Something systemic is going on. Which brings me to the second thing I noticed in the interview.
Burge notes that the “social desirability bias” in responses to surveys on religious attendance is fading, meaning that it used to be that people would exaggerate their church attendance on surveys because religious affiliation used to be more socially desirable. Now, as religious affiliation is dropping, people are losing their inhibitions and being more truthful on these surveys, so that the numbers of “nones” and the number who say they never attend religious services are both increasing.
The trend for religion is grim: people stop attending worship, then people stop belonging to a faith group, and then people stop believing. That’s the worrisome reality facing churches, and if the trend towards being a “none” is increasing in the US, then it is certainly higher in Canada.
How an aging church can become effectively missional in this context is something to pray about.