I read an article in USA Today that talked about the rise of the ‘So Whats.’ What’s that? It’s people who do not claim to be a people of faith or staunch atheists; instead, they are a growing group who say, “So what?”
As one person interviewed said, “(Growing up) I was saturated with both views (Hindu mother and atheist father), and after a while, I realized I don’t need either perspective. There may be unanswerable questions that could be cool or fascinating. Speculating on them is a fun parlor game, but they don’t shed any meaning on my life.”
What are the statistics? The American Religious Identification Survey found a trend in the past 20 years that indicated a rise in “The Nones,” people who checked “no religious identity.” In 1990, 8% checked that box. In 2008, it was up to 15%.
Now according to a 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey, 44% of people surveyed said they spend no time seeking ‘eternal wisdom’ and 19% said, “It’s useless to search for meaning.”
According to a 2011 LifeWay Research survey, 46% said they never wonder whether they will go to heaven and 28% said that, “It’s not a major priority in my life to find my deeper purpose.”
The article goes on to say that the growing trend is apathy among people towards matters of faith.
“In a culture that celebrates that all truths are equally valid, personal experience and personal authority matter most. Hence, Scripture and tradition are quaint, irrelevant artifacts. Instead of followers of Jesus, they’re followers of 5,000 unseen “friends” on Facebook or Twitter.”
The result is that most young adults interviewed claim that they don’t see much influence of God or religion in their lives at all.
I suppose I should be worried as a church planter…Look what I’m up against. As Christians, I guess we should be terrified of the growing secularization of society.
But after reading this article, I go off to one of my children’s events and end up having a 45 minute spiritual conversation with another parent that I didn’t initiate.
How did that happen?
I’m not really sure, but perhaps it could have something to do with building authentic relationships with the un-churched, the de-churched, and the people who have questions. Or perhaps it’s that they have seen something in our family and how our faith makes a difference in our everyday lives that makes them want to know more. Or perhaps they are experiencing something in their family that has left them searching.
I guess I could wring my hands in worry about these troubling trends or hunker down with my fellow Christians while watching the rest of the world “go to hell.” But I’d much rather live life engaging as any people I can and helping them move from “So what?” to “So what do I need to do next?”
Apathy is a such a growing cancer in our society. ON the other hand, we get worked up over the inconsequential things. Such dichotomy!
totally agree… it requires a great amount of balance. but i love aaron’s perspective here to not be discouraged by the trends that may cause us to lose heart. it’s the great apathy-buster…
I wonder skewed surveys like these are. My gut says that while people may be apathetic toward religion, they’re not apathetic towards all things. They still have questions about their purpose and the meaning of life. And don’t most people want to make a difference in this world and leave their mark? So is there a way to tap into that with the truth of the Gospel?
There are times I feel like just taking my family away to a secluded place and wait for Christ’s return. However I know that God wants us to go and make disciples of all men. Thanks for the reminder.
this is an important point… Christians should never stop engaging and close themselves off from the rest of the world, regardless of the reason (apathy, immorality, whatever…).
you’re right, this is a really good reminder for all of us to not get discouraged in the work of, as you say, making disciples.
So true about the twitter and facebook followers. Internet is not bad or good, but it is how we use it and how we teach our children how to use it so they have a good grasp on reality and how to interact with people in real life, connect, and make friendships, know Christ. Sometimes, I feel like Christianity is treated like a football team that we have to get behind with all the cool shirts and logos. Not that I’m against the stuff, but sometimes I think people miss the point of a deep and uncomplicated relationship with Christ based on truth.
oh dude… you know me… that interacting with people thing is huge for me!