1 in 7 non-Christians make New Year's resolutions about God

Did you make any new year resolutions for 2022? If so, how are you getting on? Have you broken any already? Do new year resolutions even matter?

A recent survey by Lifeway Research asked a sample of people in the USA about the topics they would like to address in their resolutions. Although the results are likely to be different for the UK, I expect the main categories would be the same.

Top of the list was health. I suspect that every year many people commit to eating healthier and doing more exercise, but perhaps the pandemic has made us even more aware of our health and eager to be physically in better shape. Then comes the resolutions around our money, time, and relationships.

In the survey, a large proportion of people who have some kind of religious affiliation wanted to address their relationship with God in the year ahead. 

Resolutions can be a bit of fun and might produce better habits such as eating less chocolate or reading the Bible every day. Reflecting on how we can develop habits that help us grow spiritually in the year ahead is certainly time well spent. However, there is a danger that we’re just trying to change things on the outside, the things that make us look and feel more righteous. This puts the emphasis on our own achievements rather than reflecting on who we are in Christ by the grace and power of God.

Perhaps the most surprising revelation from the survey was that 14 per cent of the religiously unaffiliated – those who don’t attend church or have ‘a faith’ – say a resolution about their relationship with God has been part of their end-of-the-year reflections. And this desire is greatest amongst those aged 18 to 34.

We can take great encouragement from this as we take the good news of Jesus out to our neighbours and friends. There is a desire within people to connect with something or someone transcendent, especially those with no Christian background or preconceptions about God. Their interest can be distant and lack commitment but it is still there and something we should consider when planning our online and in-person outreach. Let’s use this opportunity to turn a vague new year resolution to think about God more into a concrete desire to know God through his son Jesus Christ.

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