Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

Keeping the Faith – Where Love Begins

ronniemcbrayer300 brownsKENTUCKY (12/9/12) – According to the Pew Research Center’s recently released report, a full one-fifth of Americans are now unattached to religion, and the Protestant majority is no longer that; Protestant Christians now make up less than 50% of the population.
 
News agencies reported this news as statistical facts with maybe a raised eyebrow of curiosity while some agnostics celebrated the dawn of a new secularism. Meanwhile, fretful pulpiteers wrung their sweaty hands as they thundered to their shrinking congregations about the end of Christianity, threats against morality, and this trend that confirms that the apocalypse is upon us.

The illustrious Garrison Keillor had the cleverest response of all. If the statistics are true, he mused, then it means the death of the some of the world’s finest cuisine: The end of church potluck dinners. While some mourned over the condition of souls, he crooned with tongue deeply in cheek, his concern was the future of Lutheran casseroles.
 
Well, it seems the statistics are correct, and those of us who spend time in the church know it, and know it is no laughing matter. We don’t need an exhaustive study to confirm that the church is dwindling. A growing population is indeed unengaged with organized religion. They aren’t necessarily atheistic, nor are they antagonistic toward faith. They are simply uninvolved.
 
Why? Some of it is demographic, related to the age of our transitioning generations. Some of it is the natural evolvement of a Western society, and the result of an increasingly diverse nation. But frankly, and this cannot be ignored, the church has earned this decline all by its institutional self.
 
The Pew Report confirms that the religiously unaffiliated think that religious organizations are “too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules, and too involved in politics.” As one deeply committed to the Christian faith, I could not more heartily agree; I say, “Amen.”

Combine this study with the respected statistics of the Barna Research Group (which is an evangelical think tank), and the situation becomes clearer still. According to Barna, those unaffiliated with religion use several primary words to describe Christianity, words that include: “Anti-gay, judgmental, hypocritical, and insensitive.”
 
I know not every Christian behaves harshly toward others. The most gracious, caring, and welcoming people I have ever met are Christians, fixed firmly within the institution. But I admit that the most obnoxious, hateful, and critical individuals I have ever met are also religious people. This has to change.
 
“Change,” you ask? “Are you saying we should change our beliefs just to salvage our fleeting market share?” No. Market share has nothing to do with it, but how we treat others has everything to do with it. How can we who follow the loving, open-hearted, redemptive Christ be anything but loving, open-hearted, and redemptive people?
 
The longer I do this kind of work, and the longer I see these kinds of recent statistics, the more strongly I feel that the last thing most communities need is just another religious institution: An institution that pounds the pulpit and its parishioners with unyielding dogma; that points fingers, condemns, and excludes others from the love of God; that can never confess its shortcomings, admit when it has been wrong, or meet people where they are rather than demanding that people come to it.
 
No, communities don’t need more hardened, inflexible places like these; but every community needs simple, uncomplicated, receptive places. Every community needs launch pads of empowerment and liberation. Every community needs a communion of friendship, freedom, and faith that will build bridges of grace to the world, not boundaries of separation and marginalization. Simply, every community needs a place of radical hospitality and attraction that welcomes all to know a loving God.
 
I call these places “church.” Yes, I know, some churches are far better at being judgmental religious institutions than being living bodies of service and compassion, but my hope endures. My hope endures because where hardened institutionalism ends, love can begin, and the love of God is the most attractive force in the universe.
 
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.
 
 
Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

In Other News...

Register Now for Fall Day Camp

OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/23/14) — Soar into a fun week of Day Camp during Fall Break with Owensboro Parks and Recreation. Our… Read More

Community United Chili Cook-Off Seeking Contestants

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/23/14) — Participants are now being sought for the 2nd Annual Community United Chili Cook-Off… Read More
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

September 19, 2014 4864

Madisonville Man Among Three Arrested for…

in Top Stories by Muhlenberg Sheriff Curtis McGehee
September 20, 2014 3747

Large Cache of Drugs, Cash, Gun Seized;…

in Top Stories by MCSO PIO Alex Piper
September 19, 2014 2884

Five Injured in Two-Vehicle Collision at…

in Top Stories by MPD Officer Russell Nichols
September 22, 2014 2646

Medical Emergency Ends in Drug Arrest at…

in News by Madisonville Police Department
September 19, 2014 2558

Focus on Hopkins County: Crossfire

in News by Focus on Hopkins County

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

September 19, 2014 2884

Five Injured in Two-Vehicle Collision at…

in Top Stories by MPD Officer Russell Nichols
September 22, 2014 1910

Man Arrested for Slashing Tires

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
September 22, 2014 1671

Man Strikes Tree, Arrested for DUI,…

in Top Stories by Madisonville Police Department
September 19, 2014 1527

My Kentucky Roads - Twin Maples Farm in…

in Top Stories by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
September 20, 2014 1222

Teams Race to Benefit Hopkins County…

in Top Stories by Ami Clayton, SurfKY News

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

September 20, 2014 1155

Man Charged with Theft After KSP…

in Top Stories by Alexis McGee
September 19, 2014 925

STREET CLOSINGS FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

in Top Stories by Abby Shelton
September 19, 2014 911

Police Searching for Hit-And-Run Driver

in Top Stories by Jennifer Smith, DCSO
September 22, 2014 485

Buffalo Paint Out Brings Regional Artists…

in Top Stories by Owensboro Museum of Fine Art
September 19, 2014 414

Owensboro Museum of Fine Art News

in Top Stories by Owensboro Museum of Fine Art

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

September 20, 2014 3747

Large Cache of Drugs, Cash, Gun Seized;…

in Top Stories by MCSO PIO Alex Piper
September 20, 2014 1812

Paradise NRA Banquet Promises Food, Fun,…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
September 22, 2014 1790

Third Suspect Charged in Greenville Home…

in Top Stories by MCITF PIO Wes Miller
September 22, 2014 1158

Muhlenberg Bass Team Members Score…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News
September 22, 2014 1122

Hundreds Turn Out for Greenville Festival

in Top Stories by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 03social 04social 22social 21social 06