views and thoughts on topics, especially ones pertaining to christianity – with an emphasis on how most christians either ignore or discriminate against unmarried christians – and how christians have turned marriage and parenting into IDOLS and how there is no true support for sexual purity, virginity, or celibacy among christians – this is a blog for me to vent; I seldom permit dissenting views. I don't debate dissenters ————-
In a new study of President Obama’s legacy, the Pew Research Center found that religious affiliation and practice dropped off dramatically during his two terms in the White House.
“When it comes to the nation’s religious identity, the biggest trend during Obama’s presidency is the rise of those who claim no religion at all,” Pew notes in a report released this week titled “How America Changed During Barack Obama’s Presidency.”
When Barack Obama took office, those who identified as atheists or agnostics along with those who said their religion was “nothing in particular” totaled only 16 percent of the U.S. adult population. On leaving office 8 years later, the non-religious in America now make up nearly a quarter of the population.
On the contrary, the percentage of Americans who say they believe in God, consider religion to be very important in their lives, pray daily and attend religious services at least monthly have all dropped during the Obama years, Pew found.
Non-church-attending Americans are generally open to talking about faith but few wonder about life after death – which is the tactic many Christians are taught to begin conversations, a new LifeWay Research study commissioned by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College finds.
Nashville-based LifeWay Research published a (Link): study Thursday that examines the types of church activities that “unchurched” Americans are interested in as well as how open they are to talking about faith.
By “unchurched” the researchers mean “those who have not attended a worship service in the last six months, outside of a holiday or special occasion like a wedding.” Surprisingly, the survey found that more than half of Americans who don’t go to church self-identify as Christians.
I regard Mormonism as being a cult, not a form of legitimate Christianity (Mormons don’t believe in the Jesus of the Gospels, for one thing), but I think there are some parallels between Mormons and Christians, such as the over-emphasis upon marriage.
When your church makes an idol out of marriage, as Mormons and Christians do, it drives people away. Because sometimes people stay single by choice, or due to factors beyond their control.
And if you’re single in a religion that over-values marriage, there is a tendency to be ignored, set aside. Churches care more about marriage than singlehood. Churches care more about meeting the needs of married couples than they do adult singles.
There is no incentive for a single adult to remain in a church or denomination that marginalizes them constantly, or that behaves as though singleness is a disease or a second-rate life station.
We know, or can infer, some things about them from prior research. There is a correlation between certain life situations and leaving. This does not mean that being any one of these things will cause a person to leave, only that there is a relationship.
Being single. There’s been some tantalizing research over the last two years about singles in the LDS Church.
A once powerful demographic group is losing ground in American politics.
For most of the country’s history, white Christian America—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national conversations and shaped American ideals. But today, many white Christian Americans feel profoundly anxious as their numbers and influence are waning.
..The key question is not why one white Protestant subgroup is faring worse than another, but why white Protestantism as a whole—arguably the most powerful cultural force in the history of the United States—has faded. The answer is, in part, a matter of powerful demographic changes.
Conservative Christians Anxious Over Declining Clout
I first saw this article Tweeted out by Janet Mefferd, who happens to be a conservative Christian. I happen to like her and respect her, although I don’t always see eye to eye with her on every single topic.
She Tweeted a link to this article (hosted on a Fox news site) and didn’t care for it, because she feels that the author is trying to make conservative Christians look like nuts, loons, or alarmists.
I differ with her a little bit here. I think the main point of the article is right on the money.
I was a conservative Christian since youth, I’m in my 40s now. I’m only very barely holding on to the Christian faith anymore (I am strongly questioning it lately), and I am now more moderate than a hard-right winger as I used to be (not that I was ever a total wing nut, though).
Anyway, my point is, I grew up in this culture.
And yes, conservative Christians do in fact become scared, unsettled, or angry when they see culture shifting away from Judeo-Christian values and beliefs to a more secular stance. The article is quite correct in that.
I have seen conservative Christians on various news shows, Christian shows, and social media screaming, worrying, complaining, or crying about how the nation is going after Christians now, how they are upset that the nation is turning its back on God, how church membership is declining, yada yada yada.
White Christians now make up less than half of the U.S. population, largely receding from the majorities of most demographic groups, with one notable exception: the Republican Party.
According to the latest results from Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape survey published Monday by (Link): National Journal’s Next America project, just 46 percent of American adults are white Christians, down from 55 percent in 2007.
One Woman’s Experience With ‘Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome’
I regularly blog about topics pertaining to singleness, dating, and marriage and so on, but – as someone who has been undergoing a faith crisis the last few years, I am also interested in topics like this one:
What do you do when the faith you grew up in just doesn’t make sense anymore?
This is the dilemma Reba Riley, a 33-year-old from Cincinnati, faced in her late 20s. She was brought up in an evangelical Christian household, but soon realized that the questions she had about her faith weren’t being answered by the theology preached by her family’s church.
The spiritual crisis prompted her to embark on a wild journey through 30 different religious traditions in just one year. Half of these were various strands of Christianity — from Mormonism to the practices of the Amish — and the other half included Hinduism, Paganism and others.
The purpose of the quest wasn’t necessarily to find a new faith, but to combat the bitterness that had grown in her heart when she thought about God.
Three years after her experiment concluded, Riley told The Huffington Post she now calls herself a Christian, but with many, many qualifiers. Her faith is now about practicing love and finding God in unexpected places.
Blogger Declares That Adult Singles Who Desire Marriage Yet Are Still Single in Early Middle Age And Upset By It Are Being Petty
There are additional updates at the bottom of this post: I spoke with the blogger, S. Field, and she apologized, so we’re all good.
When I first wrote this post you see below, I was feeling rather cranky, I do admit (but even then, I did not hate Field, I was just upset with the “petty” remark). Since we had our chat (see bottom of this post), I’m okay with her.
Oh the irony. Someone at the Stuff Christian Culture Likes Facebook group, in a thread ((Link): located here) about people who have been hurt by churches, suggested the following blog page to another reader:
This is the blogger’s blurb on her blog’s main page:
I grew up in a Christian fundamentalist cult, but escaped as a young adult. Now, I write about being a bisexual woman and abuse survivor, exploring intersectional feminism and liberation theology.
Remember, this is a blog – by Samantha Field – that was recommended in a thread discussing how Christians and churches hurt people.
I would presume that Samantha Field would perhaps consider herself an advocate or some kind of spokesperson for (or at least sympathetic to) those who have been hurt by God, churches, the Christian faith, or what have you.
So imagine my surprise at seeing the following statement in Field’s “Lies Women Believe” book review, where she criticizes the author of the book, Nancy:
[Quote by Fields] Event this book enforces those notions. She gives the following in a list of problems we run into:
[quote by Nancy]… a loveless marriage, rejection by an ex-mate, grown children who won’t call home, approaching forty, and not a suitor in sight … (50)
[Quote by Fields] I’m sorry, those things aren’t fun, but they just seem so petty. Really, Nancy? This is your standard for talking about the possible reasons why women might feel that God doesn’t love them?
Here’s a brief recap of myself, for anyone who may be new to my blog:
I am a woman who was raised in a conservative Christian household. I accepted Christ as my savior as a kid. I have been having doubts about the faith the last two, three years, based on several reasons.
After the death of my mother a few years ago, I discovered much to my shock that most self professing Christians don’t really care. None were willing to help me through the grief or with other problems I had afterwards, some of which were not related to the death some of which were.
Those factors and others started me on a journey a little bit away from the Christian faith.
I have not totally left the faith, but am on a scale somewhere between the faith and agnosticism right now.
And one of those very reasons for my faith crisis (among several) is, yes, I am over 40 and still have never married (and with no suitors in sight), in spite of the fact I spent youth and on-wards, following Christian advice on how to get married: praying to God for a spouse and trusting in God for a spouse. I even tried some dating sites, to no avail.
But according to blogger Field, my pain and disappointment and faith crisis over this means nothing – I am just a whiny, First World Problems shallow doofus. Gee, thanks, Field!
Apparently, according to the reasoning I am seeing on Field’s blog page, I can only have doubts about the goodness of God if I am a black girl living in poverty in Africa, or something of that nature.
Christian Gender Complementarians, Target Removing Gender Store Signs, Women and Motorcycles, Social Science Doesn’t Confirm that Men Are From Mars / Women From Venus
I discussed on an older post how, since girlhood, I have really liked motorcycles and still do. I was a tom boy when I was a kid.
I was not into most girly hobbies, but my mother, who was a traditional Christian, tried to pique my interest in girly things by buying me dolls when I was a little girl.
My mother later relented a bit and bought me Evel Knievel toys. I was a big fan of Evel Knievel back in the day, and I loved motorcycles.
I still maintain an interest in motorcycles but have never owned one. I was also into other people, things, or hobbies that were considered more boyish.
Should you wonder: I am a heterosexual woman who does not act or look “butch.” I can wear jeans with chucks and turn around and look damn stunning in short skirts and high heels the next. Men flirt with me and ask me out on dates.
Me being interested in motorcycles and things considered boyish since childhood did not result in me becoming terribly unfeminine or a lesbian.
I mention this because I think one reason some Christians assume if they can make little boys and girls adhere to narrow parameters of what they consider “manly” and “womanly” (which is almost always built on secular cultural stereotypes), that they can keep kids from becoming homosexual later in life.
I’ve written a little bit more about some of these subjects in an older post here:
I have discussed before how the conservative, gender Christian gender complementarian approach to gender has been a big turn-off to me, and how it’s one factor of many that makes it difficult to remain in the Christian faith.
I was raised as a gender complementarian – both my parents are Christians who are into traditional gender roles, and my mother encouraged me to be a typical girly girl. (My mother has since passed away.)
For years and years, I felt and believed that the Bible does endorse the Christian gender complementarian view, as is promoted by CBMW (Christians for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood organization. They have a web site. I hesitate to link to their site from my blog. I really hate linking to their site).
As I grew older, I began suspecting that GC (gender complementarianism) is not true, based upon a closer look at the biblical text itself, which has examples in both Old and New Testaments of women, with God’s stamp of approval, leading and teaching men and killing men. I later totally abandoned the GC perspective.
I still remain a right wing, socially conservative, Republican-voting individual who is, by and large, on board with traditional values. Therefore, and contrary to what GCs fear and promote, jettisoning their position on gender is not a slippery slope; it does not always or necessarily turn a person into a liberal, a Democrat, pro-choicer, or a militant secular feminist.
Several days ago, some writer at CBMW, Grant Castleberry, wrote a paper about how Target stores are removing signage that says “Boys” and “Girls” from their toy sections. Here is a link to that page, hosted on CBMW:
Target’s move toward gender-neutral toy aisles has us celebrating. But some unhappy people are threatening to boycott the store.
…And after (Link): Breitbart falsely reported that Target would be “getting rid of the words ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ on clothing” in addition to toys, many on Facebook are under the impression that the company will be removing all gender-based signs from its stores. The original post made it clear that keeping gender-based signage for apparel sections “makes sense” due to “fit and sizing differences.” Target has since (Link): reiterated to several customers: “We are not making any changes to our Men’s, Women’s, Boys’, Girls’, or Baby sections.”
…“I have news for [Target] and for everyone else,” he wrote. “God created two different genders.”
Fox & Friends found (Link): a psychotherapist who said that the decision went “overboard” and implied that children might “question what their gender is” if they were taken into a Target store without gender-based signage. The caption on the segment: “‘Sign’ of the Times.” Nothing like some light Second Coming humor to kick off your morning.
(Link): Blaze contributor and self-declared “professional truth sayer” Mike Walsh blamed Target’s decision on “a few hypersensitive, hyperliberal parents” in a provocative post headlined, “Yes, Target, I Do Want My Daughter to Conform to Her Gender.”
Wrote Walsh: “I won’t attempt to defend every gender stereotype or ‘gender norm,’ but I do subscribe to the radical theory that boys and girls are different and distinct from one another in complex, concrete, and important ways, and many of the dreaded ‘norms’ are, well, normal and biological.”
Walsh conveniently lays bare the fundamental internal contradiction in the anti-Target outcry: If gender is a universal, biological, and God-ordained constant, then why do children need cultural reinforcement from a retail chain to figure it out? In the bizarro world of far-right logic, gender is at once the strongest force on the planet and the most fragile.
The God of Genesis may have created male and female but unless Target puts these words on signs for action figures and Barbie dolls, all of His hard work will be undone.
The protests seem to be motivated by the paradoxical fear that children will grow up genderless without Target’s help even though their biology should supposedly guide them into pink and blue aisles without any intervention.
But Target is not attacking gender itself, only the outdated idea that girls and boys should play with certain shapes and colors of molded plastic and not others.
Marketers – and Churches – Create Mania Over Millennials
This is about corporations, but I feel this applies equally to churches.
Most churches today fall all over themselves to attract or keep kids, teens, and above all, The Millennials. I’ve written about this before, such as (and see the links at the bottom of this post under “Related Posts”):
The extremely annoying obsession businesses have marketing to millennials has not gone unnoticed. The following is about secular businesses, but just as much fixation with millennials goes on among churches, and it needs to stop.
Churches are also losing members from Gen-X and older.
The Tic Tac Mixer is another play in the millennial mania overtaking all manner of businesses that seems to be getting more obsessive by the day. But some question the necessity of such focused attention on the tech generation.
…It’s another play in the millennial mania overtaking all manner of businesses that seems to be getting more obsessive by the day. Not since the baby boomers came of age has a generation been the target of such fixation.
But this has a 21st-century style of urgency — with 24/7 micropandering, psychographic analysis, a high-priced shadow industry of consultants and study after study. (A few from recent days: how luxury brands can connect with millennials; what millennials think about restaurant-loyalty programs; and which emotions most influence the purchasing decisions of millennials. Answer: anxiety and empowerment.)
All cater to a generation, generally viewed as people born from about 1980 to 2000.
Goldman Sachs has gone as far as to research what (older) millennials are naming their babies. GameStop, a leading purveyor of video games, promotes its “insider knowledge” of the generation. Even coffee — an industry that would seem to have the generation in the bag — is frothing.
…. Misguided attention
Some analysts and consumers have begun to ask, “What about the rest of us?”
American Churches Idolizing Fatherhood: Churches Want Your Dad, and Will Give Him Bacon, Guns, and a Grill
Some Christians – even some Christian males – have been making the complaint for a decade or more now that “churches are too feminine.” No, they are not.
Most churches of the evangelical, Reformed, Baptist and fundamentalist banners, strictly forbid, under the teachings of “gender complementarianism,” women holding positions of leadership, teaching, or preaching in churches, or in other areas of life, including marriage.
Men hold all power and control all shots in churches and in marriage.
Therefore, if you believe the church is “too feminine,” you can blame your male elders, male lay persons, and male preachers for that.
Some churches have swung too far in the other direction, in trying to correct this perceived notion that churches are not manly enough, so they come up with these bizarre stunts meant to attract men.
Another problem with GC, gender complementarianism, you see, is that Christians who teach it, do not believe men vary or that they should not vary. All men should meet the same standards and have identical interests and personalities.
Gender complementarianists teach or assume that ALL Christian men must be tough, macho, married, have children, enjoy drinking beer, belching loudly around women, and viewing NASCAR and other stereotypical manly-man pursuits, which are defined by American culture and not by the Bible.
If you are a single man, a childfree man, a man who hates football but who prefers artistic pursuits, if you enjoy listening to opera, you like visiting art museums or watching cooking programs on Food Network, you are not considered “man enough” by these churches.
This is another reason you men who complain about “churches being run or controlled by women” need to stop defending the very foundation (GC, which excludes women) that is maintaining your second tier status.
Guys like male, 50 something, celibacy blogger John Morgan (see this link and maybe this link for more about this guy) has written several times over on his blog that he wants or expects single, Christian woman to act as cheerleaders for celibate, single men. He seems to blame women for the plight of celibate men. It’s not the job of single women to be cheerleaders for Christian men.
A message to men who keep blaming women, or expecting women to clean up the mess in the church:
Female Christians are not your problem – it’s the men who run the churches who insist on GC who are your problem.
Here is another article about how churches are too masculine – that’s right, churches are not “feminine,” they alienate women or else they alienate men who don’t fit a specific “biblical manhood” description that churches propagate.
Combating an image that going to church is too “feminine,” many houses of worship are coming up with creative ways to lure dads in on Father’s Day.
…Believe it or not, Church Unlimited isn’t the only evangelical congregation commemorating fatherhood today with an all-you-can-eat bacon feast. Despite God’s firm rebuke of eating pork in the Old Testament, churches all over the country—from Nashville to Chicago, from Maryland to California—are using bacon to lure fathers into their pews. The church in California even made a commercial featuring (Link): a woman dressed up as bacon.
But fried pig isn’t the only device churches are using to get dads through their doors. Churches are giving away grills. They’re hosting car shows. They’re filling their services with “manly stuff”. Last year, a church in Missouri gave away two AR-15 rifles on Father’s Day. The lengths to which churches go to attract dads to their services seemingly have few boundaries.
Though these promotional tactics are relatively new, churches acknowledging Father’s Day is not. In fact, the holiday pretty much started in the church. Though its organizers did not arrange their function as an annual celebration, the first known commemoration of fathers happened in a West Virginia church. In 1908, eight months after nearly 400 men died in a coal-mining explosion, a nearby United Methodist church decided to (Link): honor the fathers who died in that tragedy. The pastor preached a dad-themed sermon, one “etched in sadness as well as thanksgiving.”
… And though it would be another 30 years before Richard Nixon would make Father’s Day a nationally recognized celebration, by the end of the war it was, by all accounts, an American institution.
…But today, in addition to many evangelical churches using the third Sunday in June to celebrate fatherhood, among some flocks the holiday has become an easy opportunity for churches to try and coax men to give God’s house another try.
Unlike in days gone by when church pews still filled up on Sunday mornings with dads of all ages, polling suggests that men in America have grown disinterested in church. In fact, among researchers who study America’s religious habits, one of the most talked about trends over the last decade has been the ever-present reality that (Link): a growing number of men hate going to church.
Kevin D. Hendricks, the editorial director at (Link): Church Marketing Sucks, says, “People are always going on and on about church being too feminine and about how churches need to do more work to attract men.” He adds, “It’s pretty ironic, given the patriarchy of the church.”
…Nate Pyle, author of Man Enough and a pastor of Christ’s Community Church located outside of Indianapolis, agrees with Hendricks. “By making [Father’s Day] all about bacon, giving away guns, or bringing in the local sports hero, churches hope to attract men by proving that churches can be masculine. But these macho activities are simply acquiescing to cultural ideals gathering than letting the gospel shape what we say and do.”
Baptists Still Advocating Unbiblical Bedroom Evangelism as Growth Strategy (2015)
While the Bible does not speak against a married Christian couple having children and raising them to hopefully be Christians, the Bible nowhere advocates “bedroom evangelism,” yet I continue to see Christians promoting this notion, which marginalizes people who are unmarried, child free, or infertile.
The Bible’s main approach to evangelization is to tell believers to go to other towns and cities and spread the Gospel. The Bible does not tell Christians to marry and make babies and raise babies as Christians.
To put this much attention on to procreation and marriage is to exclude infertile Christians, the divorced, widows, the child free (couples who choose not to have children) and the never married.
It is to tell the divorced, never married, widows, the child free, and the infertile and anyone else who does not fit the “Married with Kids” trope that spreading the Gospel is not for them, it is a task only for married couples who are fertile and who want to have children.
But evangelism is multifaceted. It includes everything from planting new churches to bringing up children in the faith.
Retention is especially important for generational continuity in churches.
Although Pew’s numbers suggest that evangelicals do tend to replace those they lose with new members, virtually all churches depend upon “children of the church” – people raised in Christian families – for the bulk of their members.
SBC churches need to make sure its parents are equipped to explain and model the Christian life to their children.
This authors, who are presumably Baptist, I take it – are in error to encourage Baptist growth by Baptist biological procreation.
They should instead be telling all Baptists, whether single, divorced, infertile, or childfree, to tell their Non Christian neighbors about Jesus.
They do, earlier, discuss the following:
Few [Christians] tell others about their faith, or invite co-workers and neighbors to church
But then the authors follow that paragraph with the one I excerpted above, advocating for bedroom evangelization. The solution is not for Christians to marry and have children, but for Christians of all martial statuses to share their faith with Non-Christians.
…it is worth noting here that although The Village Church claims [in their e-mail] that “We see an annulment as a subcategory of what Scripture defines as a divorce in Mark 10:9” …, this cannot be found anywhere in their Membership Covenant or Bylaws.
In signing their Membership Covenant shortly after my 24th birthday, I had agreed to nothing in regards to the possibility of annulment should I come to realize that my marriage had been a complete sham from the beginning.
There is a vast difference between a divorce and a marriage that is voided on the grounds of fraud, and I had no way of knowing that the leadership of The Village Church would respond to it in this fashion.
Why more young women than ever before are skipping church (article from Wash Post)
I wish articles would stop focusing on “young” women. Women over the age of 30, 40, 50 and older are also dropping out of church in droves, and one reason among many are the restrictive gender roles a lot of conservative churches continue to uphold as being “God’s design” or as being “biblical” (but which are not biblical).
Growing up in southeastern Indiana, Hannah Hunt questioned religion: Why did church lessons contradict what she learned in public school?
She attended services once each Wednesday and twice each Sunday. She saw no female leaders in the nondenominational Church of Christ, the centerpiece of her upbringing. The Bible, she said, called for her to be submissive to men.
Her textbooks introduced her to Gloria Steinem.
“At church, the woman would be the person in the background,” said Hunt, 24. “As long as I can remember, I would think: This is ridiculous. I’m not that person.”
Of course, many young women still embrace religion. But Hunt is far from a generational anomaly.
… Teenage girls appear to be disproportionately driving the attitude shift.
…Today’s young adults, they found, aren’t as pious as their generational precursors. They’re less likely, on average, to pray or attend religious services. They’re more likely to value individualism and ditch societal expectations.
Twice as many high school seniors in 2010, for example, reported “never” attending religious services than those in 1976 — 21 percent, up from about 10 percent…
A recent Pew survey found that millennials, born between roughly 1980 and 1996, are more likely than any previous generation to say they’re unaffiliated with religion:…
…The majority, however, still practice some form of religion. They’re just “significantly less religiously oriented” than their parents and grandparents, the study said.
The trend is especially pronounced among girls and young women. They are still more likely to say they go to church or pray than boys and young men. But the gender gap in religious participation has in recent years significantly shrunk.
…“Given shifts away from traditional female roles, females may have been affected more than males,” the study team wrote.
…“Many religions have a very patriarchal tradition,” Twenge said. “Even for those with female clergy it’s often a recent development. That’s still very much in the minority.”
Beyond anecdotal evidence, it’s tough to explain the trends. Religion can provide social support and a sense of community. Followers may find purpose and peace in the world’s exalted texts. However, the authors theorize, “if religion is perceived as a dominating force that restricts freedom and enforces social rules, this will be linked with a decline in religious involvement.”
Before she could articulate why, Hunt sensed she did not fit into the gender roles prescribed by her religion. She thought women should be able to use birth control without judgment. She wasn’t in any rush to get married. She wanted to decide the terms of her life.
I don’t care how many followers I have on Twitter.
This post is not about driving up my Twitter followers.
You can book mark my Twitter page and visit it every so often (that is, you don’t have to follow me, if you bookmark the page and visit it, it will not drive up my follower numbers).
Why would you want to visit my Twitter page?
Because I sometimes come across a lot of news stories there that I do not have the time or interest in blogging about here.
I come across many stories about child abuse by parents, married people who commit crimes, new trends in dating and marriage, why people quit church, articles about sexism (I basically tweet about the same stuff I blog about here), etc, and I simply cannot keep up with it all.
It’s much easier for me to re-tweet news stories I see on twitter than to fire up this blog, and make a post about everything.
One of the annoying things about this blog is I have to not just write up the material, but I have to add categories or tags to each post, which I tire of doing. It’s ten times faster and easier to send a tweet to an article than to write it up here.
So, you may want to consider visiting my Twitter page. The right side of this blog, towards the bottom, shows my latest tweets, but it only goes up to the last 15 or 20 and does not show them all.
You don’t have to join Twitter and “follow” me on there – you can just bookmark the page and visit once in a while. There may be links to articles on there that I do not blog about here.
Also visit that page, scroll to the bottom, and read the visitor comments – not that I agree with all comments; I disagree with the one person in the comments who is dragging up the moldy oldy chest nut, “you should go to church to serve not be served.” Sorry no… the Bible teaches that one function of the body is that they are to meet the needs of each other.
(As I type this, their web site is currently down though).
by Thom Schultz
John is one in a growing multitude of ex-members. They’re sometimes called the de-churched. They have not abandoned their faith. They have not joined the also-growing legion of those with no religious affiliation—often called the Nones. Rather, John has joined the Dones.
At Group’s recent Future of the Church conference, sociologist Josh Packard shared some of his groundbreaking research on the Dones. He explained these de-churched were among the most dedicated and active people in their congregations. To an increasing degree, the church is losing its best.
For the church, this phenomenon sets up a growing danger. The very people on whom a church relies for lay leadership, service and financial support are going away. And the problem is compounded by the fact that younger people in the next generation, the Millennials, are not lining up to refill the emptying pews.
Why are the Dones done? Packard describes several factors in his upcoming bookChurch Refugees (Group). Among the reasons: After sitting through countless sermons and Bible studies, they feel they’ve heard it all. One of Packard’s interviewees said, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”
The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done. Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place. Preventing an exodus is far easier than attempting to convince refugees to return.
Pastors and other ministry leaders would benefit from asking and listening to these long-time members before they flee. This will require a change of habit. When it comes to listening, church leaders are too often in the habit of fawning over celebrity pastors for answers. It would be far more fruitful to take that time and spend it with real people nearby—existing members.
Hypocrisy Among Christians and how it leads some to question or leave the Christian faith
I have a few other topics or news stories I wanted to blog about today and the other day, but I find myself getting sidetracked to discuss these other issues. Maybe I’ll blog about the rest tomorrow or next weekend.
This topic is (for me anyhow) rather complex. I don’t want to spend a lot of time explaining it, but it’s one I’ve seen crop up recently on other sites or in my personal life, and this will probably be another one of my long posts. Even though I have other things I wanted to do today, like bake a batch of cookies.
Whether Christians like it or not, some Christians, including lifelong Christians such as myself, are either considering leaving the faith, or have done so already, and all because the hypocrisy they see in self professing Christians.
Today during worship, we were singing a song about God being our loving Father. As we sang, I realized it was the kind of song manly-men Christian pastors hate. It’s the sort of song they rail against while crusading for the resurgence of “real men” Christian masculinity.
As we sang tender words about a tender, loving, heavenly Father, I immediately realized why some men are so angry at spiritually wimpy men and bold Christian women. The thought just popped into my head: It’s Cain and Abel all over again.
Although it’s probably one of the most profitable growth areas in Christian publishing, I’m not a big fan of the “what’s wrong with the church” book genre. In the past four plus years as a Christian talk radio host, I’ve received a large steady flow of books attempting to address the “what’s wrong with the church” writing prompt.
Invariably, these books blame the lack of church growth on fatal flaws within church leadership, structure and theology.
They assume that healthy churches grow and unhealthy churches decline. Consequently, if the church is to be healthy again, it needs to find a way to reach the people who no longer call the church their home.
“Why don’t men go to church” is a subset of the blame the church publishing niche. These books seem particularly popular as they make great reads for frustrated wives tired of attending church without their husbands. They’re also great reads for bitter men determined to justify and fortify their reasons for abandoning the body of Christ. Let’s face it, as the church declines in size and membership, the demand for church criticizing material will continue to increase.
The church isn’t masculine enough?
Almost every book, post or tweet concerning the plight of Christian men eventually blames the church for not being masculine enough. The theory is men don’t go to church because church is geared to the needs of women.
There’s too much sharing of emotions, too much hugging, too much singing, with too many effeminate leaders giving the ladies what they want: a church with no testosterone. This theory suggests that men don’t go to church because churches don’t meet the masculine needs of men. Many widely respected preachers seem to adhere to this concept that the church has been weakened by an overabundance of femininity.
…. Calling the church too feminine is sexist
Most arguments that blame the church for the absence of men are rooted in sexist assumptions. If you believe men don’t go to church because the church doesn’t meet their needs, then you are implying that women go because more of their needs are being met. What if more women go to church because their faith has a greater integrity?
What if more women go to church because they have chosen to persevere and demonstrate a moral fortitude that contrasts the weaknesses of men?
What if women are more willing to work in community, more willing to repent, apologize and forgive?
Maybe men are so emotional they are unwilling to learn how to abide in complex community. Maybe instead of following the moral lead of women, men have isolated themselves from the church to keep from having to mature and grow up.
There is another twisted, sexist logic to blaming the church for the refusal of men to participate. Instead of correcting those in rebellion, we attack those who are sincerely trying to be faithful.
We tell the regular church attender that they are the problem, not the ones who abandoned the body of Christ. We tell the male leader who has remained, even in the face of tremendous cultural rejection, that He is the problem for the church’s inability to reach more men.
Blaming the actions of the most dishonorable on those who are most faithful is an affront to the integrity of those who are actively supporting the church. To blame faithful women for the unfaithfulness of men is once again blaming the victim for being abandoned.
Male Entitlement and Adult Virginity: Who has it worse, Male Vs. Female?
The guy, John H. Morgan, behind this blog post I am discussing was eventually blocked from this blog about a year ago (read more about that (Link): here), but I think he still visits this blog regardless (which wouldn’t bother me too much if he’d (Link): give credit to this blog once in a while when and if he uses it to generate ideas for his own blog, because he apparently still visits this blog and uses it as a resource).
This is a rebuttal to a few of the points in this blog post:
Women who are waiting until marriage are virgins as pure as the driven snow. Men who wait until marriage become crippled with sexual confusion and permanent awkwardness . . . or worse. This double standard has existed for as long as men have walked the earth.
Maybe 50 or 60 years ago that double standard was in place, but no more.
The only places that double standard may still be alive today are certain extremist Christian cults, such as Quivering, Reconstructions, and patriocentric kook Christian groups, but not so much in run of the mill Baptist or evangelical circles.
Male adult virgins do not have life more difficult than adult women virgins.
The stereotypes male virgins endure (which I’ve written about a time or two previously) are not necessarily worse than the ones women adult virgins are subject to.
I would actually argue that adult women virgins, especially in the realm of Christianity, have to deal with harsher, or more prevalent stereotypes, more often than men virgins do.
While there may be a minority of Baptist or evangelicals who shame men for not marrying and reproducing young, such as disgraced pastor Mark Driscoll and Southern Baptist Al Mohler, who tend to depict single males past 25 as being stuck in adolescence, the vast majority of mainstream evangelicalism shames women far, far more for being virgins past a certain age than it does men.
Why is this so?
Because even in secular culture – this is true for Christians too – men who do not have children are not questioned as much about their childless status. It is assumed that there is something wrong with a woman who does not have children, that she is unloving or horrible for not being “maternal.”
All of this revolves around the topic of sex, since, to become pregnant in a conventional sense, one must have sex, obviously.
Christians often teach that a woman’s greatest, or only godly calling in life, or only acceptable role, is to be a mother (see (Link): this page and (Link): this page)
I have never once heard a mainstream Christian group insist that fatherhood is a man’s most godly calling in life.
The Midlife Church Crisis – how churches marginalize anyone who is not married with young children and middle-agers are leaving church
I have linked to her material before. I am over 40, never married, never had any kids and noticed by my mid 30s that churches are far too fixated on “family” and children.
This married woman, Van Loon, didn’t notice until she reached her 40s or so and became an “empty nester” (her children grew up and moved out).
I have been saying on this blog for over a year now that many churches, especially Baptist and evangelical ones, tend to exclude every one, except for children and young married couples.
If you are over 30, still not married, or are married with no kids, or are divorced or widowed, you are not even thought to exist by most churches, or your needs are not ministered to.
Everyone is expected to support the 29 year old married couple who has a baby and a toddler.
I see no place in the Bible that permits such favoritism, the negligence, by churches, of entire groups of people (such as adult singles and widowers) to coddle one other group (young nuclear families), but this happens routinely in U.S. churches.
The thing I find sad or frustrating is that while never married, childless adults such as me spot by our mid 30s, or earlier, that churches are too fixated on married with children couples and how this creates all sorts of problems for adult singles and churches, but it takes such couples into their 40s -or older- and it takes their kids growing up and moving out on their own- for these married couples to begin to notice the same thing.
If you’re a 40- or 50- something woman whose kids have grown and gone, and are now just noticing how churches place the “traditional family” on a pedestal and ignore everyone else, welcome to the club. We older, never married, childless singles have known this for years and years and years.
….I’ve had one too many conversations with empty-nester peers about what it’s like to go to church once our kids are grown and gone. Our midlife crisis of faith came from questioning not our beliefs, but our role in the body of Christ.
When the bulletin is filled with announcements for mothers of preschoolers’ gatherings, family camping weekends, and Vacation Bible School, I know I’m welcome to lend a hand by baking muffins or doing crafts. I’ve gotten the message that, now that my own children have grown, my role is to support the real focus of the church: families.
Decades ago, baby boomers and older Gen Xers pushed to create churches centered on the young, nuclear family. Sadly, this ministry model now excludes many of us. Having outgrown the local church’s core programs, we’re left to usher, teach fourth-grade Sunday school, or attend committee meetings. At times, I can’t help thinking: Been there, done that. Got the Christian T-shirt to prove it.
….Anecdotally speaking, it seemed that those over age 40 who discovered meaningful service, worship, and connections reported that their church was committed to intergenerational ministry rather than family-centered, child-focused programming. Though there is some overlap between the two ministry philosophies, the congregations that concentrate on families with children under 18 unintentionally marginalize those who don’t fit the profile.
… When we church leaders ape our culture’s obsession with all things young and cool—targeting the same desirable demographic groups as do savvy advertisers—we communicate to those who don’t fit those specs that they are less desirable.