Is religion on the decline?

The majority of people do not identify as ‘religious'. This is a challenge for the church to help people see that everyone is religious but there is only one way to heaven.

According to a report by the National Centre for Social Research, in a survey of 2,942 adults in the UK 53% of people described themselves as having “no religion”. The number is even higher amongst younger people. When the British Social Attitudes survey began in 1983, 31% of respondents said they had no religion.

This presents a major challenge to the church to show the relevance of the gospel. This is not about simply focussing on apparently universal values like community or love, although churches should be the most attractive communities in the world. Neither is relevance about adapting to how society is changing, although we always need to contextualise the message to our own language and culture. It’s interesting that the most dramatic reduction has been amongst those who identify as Anglican. This is probably in churches that have been the most eager to try and find ‘relevance’ by becoming like everyone else. What’s attractive about that?

Relevance is about showing that everyone worships something or someone. We are all religious. We organise our lives around our gods – the things we live for, the things we might even die for or feel dead without. We live by a moral code and feel good about ourselves when our behaviour is good. The big question is whether those gods are real and whether they truly satisfy.

Organised religion might be on the decline but worship is alive and well, but the only way to be satisfied and good is to worship the true God, through his Son Jesus Christ.

The church needs to be showing and telling this to a world hungry for authenticity and truth.

Graham Nicholls, 6 September 2017


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