In theory - Rev. Beverly Craig

CNN recently reported that America is a “less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago.” There has also been an increase in the number of people expressing no religious affiliation at all, according to the report. What do you believe is the reason or reasons some people are stepping away from the church? And what can do to encourage those people to come back?

People step away from anything, not just church, when they’re no longer inspired and activities remain the same.

The past few decades have been more about passionately pursuing material acquisitions — beautifully furnished homes, cars, country club memberships — those “things” that give one a sense of accomplishment.

Although God’s will for us is to live life abundantly, there are many stories of individuals who have created great wealth and still are not happy. Often, building one’s life around materialism conflicts with times religious services/events are conducted, and a choice is made — Sunday morning golf with the boss or a weekend business seminar.

When I have asked people who no longer attend church regularly if they believe in God, most answer “yes,” and they also quickly add that consistent church attendance is not on their list of priorities.

What can we as clergy do to encourage more church involvement?

Within each of us is a deep desire to know and experience our God-connection. One does not have to be religious to be spiritual. Our planet abounds with organizations — churches without walls — that exist for the express purpose of nurturing one’s spiritual growth. Their teachings can be applied any place — any time — convenient for “unchurched” people.

People are drawn to enthusiastic gatherings, literal or virtual. The root word of enthusiasm is “en theos” which means having the divine within. Inspiring messages filled with enthusiasm, offering classes that teach practical day to day applications of spiritual principles along with fun activities and opportunities for spiritual community involvement during convenient times could all be enticing to those who have been considering involvement or re-involvement with a church or spiritual community.

BEVERLY CRAIG is pastor of Center for Spiritual Living — La Crescenta. Reach her at (818) 249-1045.

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