by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook
Jul 19, 2010
A November 2009 issue of The Week featured a story, "Losing our Religion," that focused on the rapidly growing numbers of the religiously unaffiliated in the United States, the so called Nones, and asked if organized religion is fading. Younger than the general population, many Nones believe in God yet are skeptical about organized religion. The article quotes recent statistics suggesting that if this trend continues, cohorts of nonreligious young people will replace older religious people and account for one-quarter of the American population. Another recent article in USA Today concluded that young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s, approximately 72 million people, want to make an impact and are socially-conscious yet do not relate to traditional institutional structures. A decreasing number of these young adults view churches as places to make a difference or to develop their leadership skills.
The fact that nearly every major denomination is aging and losing members has been a concern for the last thirty years, yet institutional efforts to reverse these trends and to capture the religious imagination of young adults have been limited. Mainline denominations, historically and culturally self-conscious about evangelism, are further challenged to proclaim the good news in today's religiously pluralistic nation and world. What then is the role of evangelism with young adults today? What are some of the ways that the Christian church can better respond to the spiritual questions of young adults in a religiously pluralistic age? How might congregations better respond to the gifts and skills young adults have to offer?
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