Singles and Church

This is an excerpt from Barna Trends:

There are more married people in church than single people. You probably already know this just from looking around every Sunday—but here’s some data to prove it. According to a recent Barna study, less than a quarter of active churchgoers are single (23%).

The same Barna study found the majority of singles who are not active in or committed to a church are searching for meaning and purpose in life (55%). In fact, almost two-thirds of these singles (65%) are looking for ways to improve themselves and nearly one out of six (15%) would be motivated to go to church for the opportunity to find out more about God.

One in five (21%) singles who are not active in or committed to a church are interested in going to church to have support during difficult times. One-quarter of singles (23%) would be motivated to go to church if they simply knew that anyone would be welcomed into the church community.

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/single-minded-church/

Sharing Faith

“When was the last time you had a conversation about God? For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”

“A growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 who had shared about their faith agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual (i.e., themselves). Twenty-five years later, three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility (29%), a nearly threefold increase.”

“The truth is, most Christians are busy with other things: the day-to-day of normal life—jobs, kids, budgets, sports, weather and what’s premiering on Netflix this week. None of this is bad, but the unfortunate reality is that most adults don’t seem to connect their everyday experiences with their faith. Or, at least, they aren’t talking about it if they do.”

“Followers of Christ have something essential and meaningful to share with their families, neighbors, friends and those they come into contact with,” … We ought to help Christians begin to make the connections between their everyday, ordinary life—their sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and the faith that sustains them.”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/sharing-faith-increasingly-optional-christians/

Prayer in America

This is from Barna Research about Prayer in America:
“What we found gives us a much more nuanced portrait of the American prayer life. The most notable aspect of which is it’s individual quality. People pray mostly alone—it is a solitary activity defined primarily by the immediate needs and concerns of the individual. Corporate prayer and corporate needs are less compelling drivers in people’s prayer lives.”

“Though the vast majority of praying adults (89%) direct their prayers to “God,” they don’t all pray to the same god (if they pray to a deity at all). For instance, only half of praying adults (50%) pray to Jesus, and less than one-quarter (23%) pray to the Holy Spirit.”

“American adults who pray with regularity do so with varying motivations, the most common being to offer “gratitude and thanksgiving” (62%). Generationally, this is lowest among Millennials (53%) and highest among Boomers (71%). An equally popular prayer incentive is the “needs of their family and community” (61%), followed by “personal guidance in crisis” (49%). ”

“The generation most willing to cover prayer requests from others are Elders (47%), who are almost twice as likely to do so than Millennials (27%). Just less than half of praying adults (47%) most often direct prayers toward their own health and wellness.

“Almost all American adults (94%) who have prayed at least once in the last three months most often choose to pray by themselves. Not only are most prayers a solo practice, but the vast majority are also most often silent (82% compared to 13% audible and solo prayers). Affirming this shift is the fact that only a very small percentage most often pray audibly with another person or group (2%), or collectively with a church (2%).”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/silent-solo-americans-pray/

Dating Advice

Excerpt from this article: “The Golden Rule in Christian Dating”

“Have you ever tried to list out all the different dating advice you’ve heard….from other Christians?

  • Date for at least a year.
  • Don’t date for any more than a year.
  • Date exclusively in groups.
  • Make sure you get plenty of time one on one.
  • Put clear boundaries into place.
  • Don’t try to follow everyone else’s rules.
  • Spend lots of time together.
  • Be careful how much time you spend together.
  • Date a bunch of people before getting serious.
  • Don’t date anyone until you’re ready to marry them.

I could go on…

The first rule in dating is the first rule in all of life: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You will not truly love anyone else if you do not love God first and most. And no one will truly love you if they do not love God more than they love you.

But after embracing and applying the first and greatest commandment, I have found that the golden rule in dating is this:

Lean hard on the people who know you best, love you most, and will tell you when you’re wrong.

It’s not the first rule, because in absolutely every area of life — every decision, every calling, every relationship, every dream — we must start with what we think about God. Do we love him more than anything? Will we obey him, even when it will cost us? Are we willing to set anything aside for his sake? Will we trust him, even when we want something else for ourselves?

Today more than ever before, we’re faced with a never-ending buffet of opinions and advice that has something to say about everything and yet lets us choose the answer we want… The scary reality is that we can find an answer somewhere to justify what we want to do — right or wrong, safe or unsafe, wise or unwise. The advice we choose might be from a book by a doctor, or a random conversation with someone at church, or a blog post by a teenager, or just something we found on Pinterest. For many of us, if we’re honest, it really doesn’t matter who’s offering the advice as long as it confirms what we thought or wanted in the first place.

Real friendship, with real life-on-life accountability, may not offer the same amount of information or advice, and you will not always like what it has to say…The people willing to actually hold me accountable in dating have been my best friends. I’ve had lots of friends over the years, but the ones who have been willing to press in, ask harder questions, and offer unwanted (but wise) counsel are the friends I respect and prize the most.”

 

Source: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-golden-rule-in-christian-dating

Dating or Courting?

Humorous yet insightful article; here are some highlights.

“As a pastor, over the years I had my fair share of people approach me to find out if we were a “courtship” church or a “dating” church. The people invariably would tell me that their approach was “the biblical way.”

“Perhaps you’ve seen this list floating around the world-wide-web, but it’s worth reviewing because it makes a very important point. So here it is… ways to find a wife according to the Bible:

  1. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deut. 21:11-13)
  2. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. —Moses (Ex. 2:16-21)
  3. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. —Boaz (Ruth 4:5-10)
  4. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. —Benjaminites (Judges 21:19-25)
  5. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a wife.—Jacob (Gen. 29:15-30)
  6. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest.–Xerxes or Ahasuerus (Esther 2:3-4)
  7. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.”–Samson (Judges 14:1-3)
  8. A wife?—Paul (1st Corinthians, chapter 7)

Obviously, this list was written with humor in mind, and some of these “ways,” are not prescriptive but descriptive of the sinful ways that God’s people have conducted themselves in the past—they are in no way exemplary. But this does demonstrate an important point—people often want the Bible to say certain things, such as how to find a spouse and marry, but they ignore portions of Scripture that don’t fit their paradigm. The Bible has more to say about arranged marriages, for example, than it does “courtship” or dating. So then, how do we proceed?

We also have the clear biblical command that a Christian is free to marry whomever he or she chooses, so long as the prospective mate is “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7.39). But in the end, choosing a spouse calls for wisdom…where God has spoken, we are bound, but where he has not spoken we are free. We are not bound by the commandments of men.

We should also note that in its collective history, the church has never addressed the issue in its creeds or confessions about how to find a spouse. Perhaps this should tell us that it is a matter of Christian liberty and that in the end, we should rely on God’s grace, wisdom, prayer, and godly counsel rather than make claims that the Bible has never made.”

 

Source: https://www.beautifulchristianlife.com/blog/16-ways-to-find-a-wife-according-to-the-bible

Authenticity

Insight into the need for authentic and sincere Christians to practically live out their faith, and to openly address challenging issues.

 

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith
David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings
: Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.

 

Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations
Vern L. Bengtson. Norella M. Putney, Susan Harris, Oxford University Press (2013)

Book Findings: Several key findings were discovered in this 35-year study of families, focusing on the question of how religion is passed across generations:

1. Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith.
2. When a child sees and hears that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives, they’re much more likely to follow suit.
3. Young adults are more likely to share their parents’ religious beliefs and participation if they feel that they have a close relationship with those parents.
4. Young Christians who leave the faith are far more likely to return when parents have been patient and supportive – and perhaps more tolerant and open than they had been before the prodigal’s departure.

 

Source: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2018/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/

What We Don’t Want to Hear

Things not to say to your single friends:

“YOU WILL MEET SOMEONE WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT.”

“YOU MUST HAVE SO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS!”

“SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MEET PEOPLE?  ARE YOU PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE?  HAVE YOU TRIED ONLINE DATING?”

“IF BEING MARRIED IS A DESIRE OF YOUR HEART, THEN GOD WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.”

“YOU’RE JUST TOO PICKY.”

 

Source: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/life/ten-things-not-to-say-to-single-people/

Holiness of God

Statement: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.
Finding: 61% of all participants strongly disagree with this statement.

“The results jump off the page as the strongly disagree column spikes to 61%. That conviction is fundamentally a conviction about the character of God. If he is perfectly holy and just, he cannot let sin go unpunished. But God is no longer holy—in the minds of six out of ten Americans.”

Source: https://thestateoftheology.com/

Confronting Issues

Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood
Christian Smith with Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson and Patricia Snell Herzog, Oxford University Press (2011)

Book Findings: Young adults are unable to think coherently about moral beliefs and problems. Young adults have an excessive focus on consumption and materialism as the good life.


America’s Changing Religious Landscape

Pew Research Center (2015)
Study Findings: As the Millennial generation enters adulthood, its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations.

 

Book Findings: There appears to be no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the version of Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them “to change anything that’s broken in the world.” Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on. “We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens’ religious apathy. “…The gospel of niceness can’t teach teens how to confront tragedy. It can’t bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?”

 

 

Source: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2018/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/

Ethics

“What we believe shapes how we behave. As we see evangelicals slipping away from foundational beliefs, we also see them rejecting biblical teaching on Christian living. Convictions about the key ethical issues that previously defined evangelical ethics, especially in the public sphere, are weakening as church attendance slackens.”

Statement: Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.
Finding: Only 52% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.

Statement: Abortion is a sin.
Finding: Only 48% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.

 

Source: https://thestateoftheology.com/