OTHERS & Those who belong to religious groups or attend services have a lower level of misanthropy, or dislike of other people.

by Bob Smietana, Religion News Service, 1/28/21.

…Using data from the General Social Survey, Rubia Valente, assistant professor at Baruch College, and Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn of Rutgers University isolated two aspects of religion: individual religiosity, with a focus on prayer and belief in God, versus social religiosity, measured by attendance at services or membership in a religious group.

They found higher levels of belief predicted less trust, while higher levels of belonging predicted more trust. They also found that those who belong to religious groups or attend services have a lower level of misanthropy, or dislike of other people.

“People that are socially religious — what we classify as belonging — they’re more likely to like people and have a lower misanthropy level,” said Valente.

Valente said the study’s findings reminded her of some of the messages she heard in church while growing up in Brazil, especially about putting your trust in God and not in other people.

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2021/01/28/when-it-comes-to-building-trust-belonging-beats-belief-study-finds/

TRENDS & Barna’s “State of the Church 2020″ lists “Pastors’ Concerns for the Christian Church in the U.S.” = “watered down Gospel teachings,” secularization, discipleship & “addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity.”

“What’s on pastors’ minds? It’s not religious liberty” by , Religion News Service, 2/10/20.

…According to the (Barna “State of the Church 2020″) report, three-quarters (72%) of Protestant pastors identify the impact of “watered down gospel teachings” on Christianity in the U.S. as a major concern. That’s especially true for pastors in non-mainline denominations (78%). Mainline pastors (59%) are less concerned.

About two-thirds (66%) of pastors say a major concern for Christianity is “culture’s shift to a secular age,” followed by 63% who identified “poor discipleship models” as a major concern and 58% who named “addressing complex social issues with biblical integrity,” the survey says.

In their own churches, most pastors reported that the major concerns they face are “reaching a younger audience” (51%) and “declining or inconsistent outreach and evangelism” (50%), according to the report.

What doesn’t worry pastors very much: religious liberty — the stuff of Supreme Court cases, executive orders, campaign promises and a recent task force and summit. Only 23% of Protestant pastors identify it as a major concern or issue facing the Christian church today in the U.S., and 32% said it was not a concern or issue at all, according to Barna Group data.

Other issues low on pastors’ list of major concerns include keeping up with technology and digital trends (7%), online churches and other challenges to the traditional church model (11%), “celebrity pastors pulling people away from the local church” (19%), the declining influence pastors have in their communities (20%) and the role of women in the church (23%).

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2020/02/10/whats-the-state-of-the-church-barna-group-launches-project-to-survey-local-national-church/

YOUTHFULNESS & Are you yearning for something more at church than skinny jeans, hipster hairstyles and pop-40 music? So was Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Read on…

“The Good News should be a life transforming message that utilizes culturally relevant methods, but is not captive to them nor obsessed with them.”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: A new book by Andrew Root titled “Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church’s Obsession with Youthfulness,” reminds us that sharing the gospel can become captive to trendiness, hipster appearances and pop-40 music. Rather the Good News should be a life transforming message that utilizes culturally relevant methods, but is not captive to them nor obsessed with them. For good insights check out Root’s book as well as read this interview with the author.

“Responding to American Christianity’s obsession with youth” By Jonathan Merritt, Religion News Service, 3/2/18.

(RNS) — Centuries ago, some of our ancestors powdered their wigs in order to appear older and wiser. Today, adults dye their hair darker to seem young and relevant. It’s difficult to dispute that, as Simon Donnan put it, “Youth is the new global currency.”

One might assume that the Christian church, which often touts itself as counter-cultural, would buck this trend. But many American congregations have embraced it instead. Have you ever been to a house of worship with a top-40 style music and a skinny-jeans wearing pastor donning a carefully coifed hipster hairdo? Then you know exactly what I mean.

This trend is born out of an earnest desire to “reach the next generation” and is usually well-motivated. But according to Andrew Root, author of “Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church’s Obsession with Youthfulness,” it is a recent phenomenon and creates challenges that must be addressed. Here we discuss how American Christians can understand and respond to our obsession with youth.

RNS: Talk to me about the history of “youthfulness.” What are the key turning points?

AR: I am developing this idea of “youthfulness” because of a thesis that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in 1930, in it he said, “Since the days of the youth movement [referring to the German Youth movement in the late 19th century] the church has been more obsessed with the youthful spirit than the Holy Spirit.”

When I read this five years ago, I almost jumped out of my chair; it felt incredibly prophetic and like Bonhoeffer was speaking to the American church today. I think the legacy of youthfulness, like Bonhoeffer says, goes back to “the days of the youth movement”; as some cultural theorists point out, it is always 1969 in America. In the late-1960s the counter-culture drew from older avant-garde communities to embrace this ethic of authenticity, opposing a larger sense of obligation and duty. The baby boomers shifted the whole ethos of the culture to follow only what speaks to you. We all, in one way or another, live in this legacy now.

RNS: How did American society specifically become obsessed with youth culture?

AR: How we got here was not just young people growing their hair long and smoking weed, but Madison Ave picked up these themes of authenticity. After World War II, it was your duty to buy. Madison Ave took the counter-culture ethic of authenticity and made it the new engine for buying and consuming. Youth become the prophets of the age of authenticity – to be authentic is to be youthful. This continued to be sold to us for the past 50 to 60 years. So as the church finds itself with an authenticity deficit, it often runs to youthful forms to legitimate it.

RNS: I’ve heard some Christians say that working to attract young people is a good thing, that the youthful spirit will keep the church vibrant. Is this true?

AR: I clearly want young people in the church. I am a professor of youth ministry, after all. My concern is that the youthful spirit becomes a certain form of idolatry – a way of saving ourselves without the need for God. Do they actually want to attract young people? Real young people will force them to have relational encounters that will change them and their church. Or do they like the idea of having young people as a measure of their church’s vibrancy, legitimacy, or longevity?

 

Read more at … https://religionnews.com/2018/03/01/responding-to-american-christianitys-obsession-with-youth/