Why are the polls indicating that many have no religious affiliation?
We shall consider three possible contributing reasons for it: (1) The churches are not effectively teaching the attendees basic theology or apologetics; (2) the public school is teaching ideas or concepts that contradict and undermine church teachings; (3) the people of the church are missing ministry opportunities.
First we will consider the second reason mentioned: that the public schools are teaching ideas or concepts that contradict and undermine church teachings.
I was teaching a Sunday School class at a Baptist Church in Fort Worth about two years ago. This class was for third and fourth grade children. During the lesson I mentioned how God created the world in six days as part of the Creation story. One of the young girls in the class started shaking her head, “No,” in silent disagreement. When I inquired as to her objection, she mentioned that the school taught that the world was created through extended periods of time (evolution).
Although I was not surprised that public schools taught evolution, I was partially surprised that Evolution was being taught at such a young age. Teach the children while they are young what you want them to believe, and what they learned usually stays with them for quite a while. This is basic psychology and a basic childhood education principle.
Often times Evolution is not a concern for many in the church and many even try to find a common ground between the Theory of Evolution and the Creation story. This really creates a problem and generates doubt regarding Biblical teachings. Jesus references Adam as a created (not evolved or poetic) person and places the origin of sin upon him. If one removes Adam by stating humans evolved from apes, then that seriously undermines what Jesus taught. If man evolved, then there is no original sin but rather learned behavior that happens to be evil.
Other writings and discussions are available regarding the disconnections between Evolution and Creation. The point here is that Evolution is one example of a teaching that can create doubt regarding Biblical texts in the minds of children. A foundation that suggests the Bible might be an unreliable source in the mind of a child creates a presupposition for the child that the Bible, and all its teachings, may not be trustworthy. Furthermore, a child that is not taught some basics of hermeneutics becomes prey to misguided reasoning, philosophies, and teachings that are anti-God.
Parents who fear God need to have a better understanding of what their child is learning in both private and public school. As children grow older and advance to higher grade levels, the teachings become increasingly secular, agnostic, and anti-Christ.
This is especially true when youth graduate High School and then attend College. In this day in age, if a student has not been taught sound theology, philosophy, hermeneutics, and especially apologetics, then the odds are high they will become part of the polling results that have no religious affiliation. Even Little Johnny or Sweet Susie can and do become sidetracked and confused.
The old defense of “The Bible says…” is no longer sufficient. The secularized American Colleges and Universities teach that the Bible is unreliable and is full of myths. With something that forms a critical foundation of one’s faith seemingly discredited, a student often finds him or her self questioning their faith and even their life. Materials exist that refute the lies and unreliable teachings of Institutions. Teaching children, youth, and adults the content of such materials is vital, especially today.
This leads to the other reason that many do not claim any religious affiliation: the churches are not effectively teaching the attendees basic theology or apologetics. It is important to teach many of the stories and teachings of the Church, but going beyond the basics of milk and into deeper teachings of basic theology and apologetics is critical.
Church History, philosophy, theology, hermeneutics, and apologetics should be taught in churches. One should not need to attend a Church private school, college, or university to be taught such important aspects of Christianity. Not all students attend a religious educational institution for their education, so the church needs to provide instruction to its membership.
Church publication houses must modify their curriculum to address deeper aspects of Christianity. Determining which curriculum to change could be identified according to what materials have the most exposure. Sunday morning Bible Studies or Sunday Schools typically have the most participants; however, home Bible study groups are also heavily attended in some churches.
Many Sunday School or morning Bible study materials are superficial. This is evident and often conveyed amongst Church members through the popular phrase: “Oh, that’s just a Sunday School answer,” which indicates a lack of depth or thought. By enhancing the curriculum materials that have the most exposure, (1) more participants are made aware of key areas and foundations of Christian teachings; and (2) these learners gain a better understanding and a stronger basis for their beliefs.
The last reason to consider of why the polls indicate that many have no religious affiliation may be because people of the church are missing ministry opportunities. According to research the number one reason why an individual attends church is because someone invited him or her. It is important that Christians reach out not only to each other but also to those outside the church. Often times individuals are so busy with personal activities or focused upon internal church events that opportunities to reach out and minister to those in need are overlooked.
Ministering to others involves more than simply praying for them. It involves taking a little bit of time and effort to do something helpful along one’s journey. Faith without works is dead, and by visiting, calling, writing, sharing, or supplying something to or for one in need is ministry and faith in action. When people stop caring or stop taking time to be involved with the life of another, individuals may slip away and find other friendships and relationships that meet their needs.
Times and seasons are a real part of church life. Different people are at different places in their life. Some go through times of doubt, fear, or anger against God, the church, and people inside and outside the church fellowship. Employment and school aspects of daily life cause changes that effect behavior, decisions, and activities. As time goes by people may move on to other churches or no church at all. All of these provide some type of opportunity for church members to help wherever and whenever they see an opportunity arise.
Frequent fellowships and events help to build relationships. Being alert regarding who is missing from an activity and being in contact with the person conveys concern and a sense of belonging. The church, although it is definitely imperfect, should invite individuals to the table of fellowship and to a place of acceptance in light of the grace that God has provided to all.
So these are three reasons why many have no religious affiliation. Many other reasons exist, but these are the ones being considered here. If churches would teach more in depth theology and apologetics and would continually provide ministry for those in need, then maybe individuals would be more likely to have a religious affiliation. On the other hand such people could be classified among the seeds that were planted but were carried away with the wind or landed amongst the rocks and were never meant to develop.
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