December 3, 2015 | Kacey Chambers |
Written By: Dr. Steve Whitaker, Head of School
As parents, one of our most important responsibilities is to interpret the world around us for our children. Whether we are watching the news, talking about an article we’ve read, or discussing current affairs with our family, we should always be looking for the teachable moment. One of my goals as a parent is to help my children understand that they are growing up in a very different world than I did.
The image of the White House splashed in rainbow colors was a teachable moment. The tragic events unfolding this week in San Bernardino represent a teachable moment. The political debates have been, and will continue to be, teachable moments. Teachable moments are not always pleasant and sterile. They are often unpleasant, difficult, and troubling. However, these moments give us the opportunity to talk about living out our faith in a changing culture in the same way that Jesus did.
A recent study from the Barna Research Group highlighted three important trends that can be used as teachable moments around the dinner table with your family and mine. Read these statistics to your children and ask them why they think these changes are taking place in society. Don’t be quick to offer your own insight, just listen first. The teachable moments that follow will be priceless.
1. Secularization Is on the Rise
Nearly two-fifths of the nation’s adult population (38%) now qualifies as post-Christian. The study measured 15 different variables related to people’s identity, beliefs and behaviors. Even though most would describe America as a “Christian” nation, we are essentially secular in beliefs and practices.
2. People Are Less Open to the Idea of Church
Of the churchless people that Barna interviewed, only 47 percent said they would be open to attending church with a friend. That number has steadily declined over the last twenty years. One out of every four Americans has never experienced regular church attendance. In the 1990s, most of the unchurched adults said they had regularly attended church at some point during their lifetime. Church is becoming an increasingly unfamiliar experience for most Americans.
3. There Is Skepticism about Churches’ Contributions to Society
When the unchurched were asked to describe what they believe are the positive contributions of Christianity in America, almost half (49%) could not identify a single favorable impact. By and large, the churchless identify Christianity as being oppositional rather than relational.
“Our research suggests a growing indifference toward churches among the unchurched,” says David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group. “The gap between the churched and the churchless is growing, and it appears that Christian communities of faith will struggle more than ever to engage church outsiders in their neighborhood, town or city.”
We understand that when Jesus was on earth His message was met with resistance and disregard, so much so, that He was mocked, scorned, and crucified. However, His message remained the same – love those who hate you and do good to those who persecute you. If He were walking among us today, He would still be serving, giving hope, and pointing people to the hope of eternal life.
While the world around us is changing, the message of the Gospel is still the same – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him can have eternal life (John 3:16).
Steve Whitaker, Ph.D.
Head of School