The CNN.com headline caught my eye: "Americans not losing their religion, but changing it often."

The CNN.com headline caught my eye: "Americans not losing their religion, but changing it often." The lead story was of Ingrid Case, a 41 year old freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis, who grew up an altar girl (acolyte) in her Episcopalian church. But after college, she drifted away, uncomfortable with her church's theology, eventually meeting and falling in love with a man who himself was searching for religion. Eventually the two of them joined the Society of Friends and became Quakers. She told the reporter, "It wasn’t so much 'You people stink and I'm out of here,' as 'I like this better and this is what I want to do.'" (http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/27/changing.religion.study/index.html)

Turns out she's not alone. According to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life "more than half of American adults have changed religion in their lives. . . . Just under five in 10—47%—have never changed faith." According to Gregory Smith, research fellow at Pew, "You’re seeing the free market at work. If people are dissatisfied, they will leave. And if they see something they like better, they will join it." Such changing can be the result of moving to a new community, marrying someone of a different faith, not liking their minister or liking another pastor more. "The reasons people change are as diverse as the religious landscape itself," he said. And interestingly, factors you'd think would lead people to change religions, actually don't have much impact—such as sex abuse scandals in the church or science "disproving" religion, etc. Many reported that like Ingrid they simply drifted away.

On the other hand, "more than half the people who are raised unaffiliated are now affiliated. More than half [of those people] say they joined their current faith in part because they felt called by God to do so." So while people who grew up in the church may leave it, it is encouraging to be reminded that people who grew up with no church at all may eventually join it. Flux obviously flows both directions.

But the statistic that caught my eye was this one: "Most people who switch religions do so before they are 24." As pastor of a university community where so many are under that age, I wonder how strong the forces of change are within the young adults and teenagers who occupy our pews or who may never have at all.

No wonder the jaded and aged king, brooding over his disappointing life, ended his soliloquy with the sage counsel: "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Given the compelling persuasion to change when we are young, isn't it the better part of wisdom to assist our young in defending their faith and securing their beliefs? And for those young with no faith at all (yet), aren't we who have found convincing reason to believe under moral obligation to point them to the very God and Savior we have learned to trust? After all, change is a two-way street. And with the right directions, a U-turn can be straight toward God.

Comments

Hi: I am a 33 yr. old female who became an SDA when I was 17 yrs. old, and I agree that our goal today should be to instruct our children early in order to avoid these situations. Before, I became an SDA, I was an active Catholic, one which I learned very little about "Bible". I must say, I do thank GOD for being able to become the ONLY SDA in my entire family. I have learned so much that I today am able to instruct my children in it. I encourage parents who are learning of the mentioned situation to take not take it lightly and focus on ensuring their childrens' future within the righteous paths of Christianity. As oppose to having to deal with unwanted behaviors portrayed by them as they mature.

True, many youth and young adults may leave to taste and explore the unknown. However,the reality is that they will return. The search for true meaning of life can never be found in what the world has to offer. The world is shallow and void of deep meaningful relationships. We humans hunger for something that only God, the true God of the universe, can fulfill. No other relationship,job, material thing can satisfy the longing that cries from the deepest resources of our being - Do I Matter? And to whom do I matter to. The only people who seem to have that deep abiding joy are those who have filled that God-longing space with Jesus. No family relationship, no marital bond, no job, no amount of money or material wealth can meet that longing. Only God. So, as people search to fulfil that emptiness, it is my prayer that they will come to KNOW the only true God who loves us, you, me so much that HE gave up all of heaven and died to save US. Who else can love like that?

I loved this from the article: ..Smith warned against labeling those people "secular." "Upwards of one-third of newly unaffiliated people say they just haven't found the right religion yet," Smith said... "Just because a people is part of a particular group at this point in time, or a part of no religion, doesn't mean they are going to stay that way forever," said Smith... As I see it this Smith Guy is responding to the secular media's reaction to that Barna study. Newsweek going as far as to announce on its front cover in bold red letters, "The Death and Decline of Christian America". While the skeptics are declaring victory the Spirit of God is still tugging on hearts, and how enlightening and encouraging it is to me to see that the quiet, convicting Spirit of God will not be outdone by the skeptic propaganda machine.

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