It is Easter Sunday afternoon and I have read my Sunday newspaper following three services and breakfasts at our church, and I expect we’ll learn that some 750 to 800 people or more attended Easter services today. Easter and Christmas are the two most well-attended church holidays in the year from my experience. That is fitting since we celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas and the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion on Easter. We expect some who are not regular attendees to be in church in each of those celebration periods, as well as a solid turn-out of members and guests. (For the record, we are members of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Hubertus, WI. and we’d love to see you there one of these Sundays.)
I followed this wonderful experience by reading an article in the newspaper this afternoon that recounts the results of a new study which analyzes responses to four decades of data compiled by the University of Chicago’s ‘General Social Survey’. This data is from polls of 58,893 respondents who are all U.S. adults administered from the early 1980s to 2014. The findings follow:
- Those who identified their religion as ‘none’ increased from 7% to 21% in that period.
- Those who never attend religious services doubled to 26%.
- Those who say they never pray rose from 3% to 15%.
- Those who say they don’t believe in God rose from 13% to 22%.
- Those who say they believe in an ‘afterlife’ stayed flat at 79%, but non-churchgoers who believe in an ‘afterlife’ increased from 7% to 15%. (That doesn’t make sense to me.)
- Millenials are the least religious generation in memory according to San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge who is an author of the study.
I understand from my own life experience that things change in our lives and that some of those changes tend to remind us that we really do need God in our lives, that we are not able to make this life journey as we need without His help. I am saddened to think that we Christians are apparently losing ground in our work, or are not working hard enough, to bring people to faith in God, or so it would seem from the results above. There are many distractions that have a compelling allure for people, especially if they are searching for grounding.
I have experienced both sides of this life-altering decision and can tell anyone who is interested that following God is fulfilling beyond anything this world can bring to us.