One of the few online Newsletters that I look forward to getting each month is the Ivy Jungle Network's: Campus Ministry Update. It is always interesting, informative, and relevant to those of us that work with this age-group. The latest edition just came out; usually I just link it without much comment, but because there are always some very interesting things that I think deserve more than just a “notice,” I've decided to change my approach. Throughout this week I will highlight some of the reports they mention, and give some little personal perspective as well - my comments will be in the light blue font. Today is the 2nd day, enjoy!
The Ivy Jungle Network
Campus Ministry Update
The Ivy Jungle Web Site >>
Trends in Campus Ministry, Culture and Higher Education:
Research has consistently shown a general growth in "spirituality" and a decline of interest in the church. In the first highlight below, Barna's work shows this trend continues. The concluding statement is most telling: "Affirming the self-focused approach to religion, 71% say they are 'more likely to develop my religious beliefs on my own, rather than to accept an entire set of beliefs that particular church teaches.' "
This, of course, says much about the the church and raises many questions of how, why, etc., it has missed the mark. Maybe part of the answer is seen in the concluding sentence in the second highlight below from the Pew study? They conclude with this thought: "The reasons to shift denominations appear tied to life circumstances rather than doctrine. Among common answers: moving to a new community, marrying someone from a different religious background, and dissatisfaction with worship services, etc." Would this indicate there is a lack of solid, accurate, informative, and relevant biblical (doctrinal) teaching; thus, we are producing church-people only concerned with ther "creature conforts" and "personal preferences" rather than real convictions or commitments to God, the truth of His Word, and His church???? Just asking.
Seeking New Ways to Experience God: A recent Barna report shows that many Americans are looking for new ways to connect with God. The report shows that most Americans (88%) believe that "my religious faith is important to my life." 75% say that "God is motivating people to stay connected with Him, but in different ways and through different types of experiences than in the past." Nearly two-thirds (64%) say they are "completely open to carrying out a pursuing your faith in an environment or structure that differs from that of a typical church." Affirming the self-focused approach to religion, 71% say they are "more likely to develop my religious beliefs on my own, rather than to accept an entire set of beliefs that particular church teaches." (Barna.org June 8, 2009)
Most People Change Religions by Early Adulthood: The study, "Faith in Flux: Changes in Religious Affiliation in the US" is a follow up to the 2008 Pew study which showed that 44% of US adults had switched their religious affiliation during their lives. The Pew study found 16% of adults "unaffiliated religiously." Among those expressing no faith, most say they find religious people "hypocritical, judgmental, or insincere." Most who leave their childhood faith do so by the age of 24, with many changing religions or denominations more than once. The Catholic Church has reported that 68% of those raised Catholic remain in the faith as adults. Among Protestants, while 80% of those raised so have remained Protestants, but more than a quarter have switched denominations between childhood and adulthood. The reasons to shift denominations appear tied to life circumstances rather than doctrine. Among common answers: moving to a new community, marrying someone from a different religious background, and dissatisfaction with worship services, etc. (LA Times April 27, 2009)
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