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Who Are the ‘Nones’ and What Do They Really Believe?

Who Are the ‘Nones’ and What Do They Really Believe?

You may have seen a recent survey from General Social Survey which has revealed that ‘Nones,’ or those who claim ‘no religion,’ are now the largest religious demographic in the US. Think about that for a moment, those claiming no religious faith whatsoever now outnumber those who claim to belong to any other religious group, including both Catholics and Evangelical Christians.

According to the report, “those of ‘no religion’ (23.1%) are statistically the same size as evangelicals (22.8%). There was also a small resurgence of mainline Protestants, while Catholics are down 3% in the last four years.” For Americans, this is new territory, and represents a marked departure of where our nation has been throughout its history.

We can debate whether the United States was founded as a ‘Christian’ nation, but there is no debate that most Americans, even those who are not active in church, have been at least influenced by the Church as a cultural institution. Historically, even people who had just a cultural amount of faith knowledge could quote you Psalm 23, John 3:16. If nothing else, most were probably at least Christmas and Easter church attenders. Now that this has changed, what does it mean for us, for our nation, and how do we respond?

3 Important Things to Know about the 'Nones'

“For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” Acts 17:23

First of all, The Nones are not some evil group of Satanic people out to ruin your faith. These are simply everyday people from every walk of life who no longer know what to believe, so they choose to not affiliate with any faith system. Many still attend church on occasion, they just can’t say that they fully embrace everything they think the church promotes.

For many churches, the membership rolls generally outnumber the actual attendance, and every few years require cleaning up.

Secondly, it is clear that younger people ,many of whom are actively ‘deconstructing’ their faith, simply do not trust the church, which they see as an outdated institution with outdated ideals. Many who were once active in Christian leadership are now simply bowing out, claiming that they simply have stopped believing.

We as a Church have gravely failed our young people (and by extension our society-at-large) by failing to disciple them or plainly and clearly teach Christian essentials. This is the trend of having a character trait for the week, such as ‘kindness,’ and throwing in a Bible verse to keep it churchy, yet non-offensive to keep visitors from thinking we are Bible-thumpers. This has proven to be a doomed strategy.

The Gospel is the most powerful, life-altering message on the face of the earth, and we can no longer settle for a watered-down cheapened version of it.

For others, this may be a result of such a desire to see our children ‘make good choices’ that we have tried to teach them decision-making without giving them the solid foundation of the Gospel to build upon. Ultimately, that becomes the age-old concept of “do good things and don’t do bad things.”

 Many have concluded that if this is all we have to offer, character traits and a few suggestions to ‘be better’, then Church has very little to offer that the Church doesn’t also offer as well. It becomes a competition of what makes you feel better, and which is easier to go along with.

Third, we have allowed ourselves to chase social media trends, instead of setting the conversation we want to be having. Sadly, Christians come to be seen as a right-wing voting bloc instead of a family of faith living joyously in the salvation and grace that can change the world. Instead of spending our time discussing what the President did today or what a celebrity pastor is up to, we should be engaging with those closest to us. We can find simple ways to shine the light of the Gospel in our homes and neighborhoods.

What Can We Do about It?

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:24-26

The first thing we can do is to seek God in prayer. After all, this battle is a spiritual one, and God is still in control of this planet, even if many people are not sure about it. Satan, on the other hand, is the origin of all the confusion we see in the world. Ever since he planted confusion and doubt in the Garden of Eden, leading Adam and Eve into sin, he has been actively planting doubt wherever he can. Satan himself has been and will continue to be the enemy of our faith, and the stealer of souls.

Because this is a spiritual battle, it is up to us to deny ourselves and follow Jesus every day. We must read his word diligently and live it out faithfully.

It is up to us to live deeply rooted in the Word of God, no matter what circumstances come our way.

The Nones believe in something, we all do, even if I believe that there is nothing to believe in, that is still a belief. It is not for us to argue or try to win a fight with them. The battle belongs to the Lord. It is for us to speak truth, to live a life pf prayer and joy in Christ, and ask God to lead us into opportunities to shine his light before others. We must not just preach the Gospel but actively live out the Gospel daily.

That, after all, is how Jesus did things, and it is exactly how we should as well.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/wildpixel

Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and member of the worship team at matthias lot church in St. Charles, MO. He spends his free time hanging out with his family, exploring new places, and writing about the experiences. Connect on Facebook or at JasonSoroski.net.

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