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Sep
06
2019
Friday, September 06 2019
Christianity After Religion

According to Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American fact gathering organization, in 2017 27% of Americans described themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” That was up from 19% when they asked that same question in 2012. Their research showed that this increase was true in every age category and every level of education and was evenly split between men and women. Churches across the country are grappling with what that means for them and their future. 

At Broadus it’s been no different. We look at decreased attendance and giving and wonder about where we’re going. Members voice, sometimes in Church Council or deacon’s meetings, but more often in whispered conversations, “where will Broadus be in 10 years?”  Given what we see going on around us, that’s a legitimate question. And for those of us who love this particular faith community, it’s a scary question.

We decided that it was important as a congregation to try to understand what it means when individuals defines themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” What are they saying about themselves, but more importantly what are they saying about the church as a whole? What do we need to hear and how do we as Broadus need to respond? Where is God’s voice in this conversation and what do we hear Him saying? To help guide our conversations, we suggested that our three adult classes study Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass. Books were purchased for anyone who wanted to read along, and each week discussion guides were prepared to help readers process and apply what Bass wrote. Group discussions followed each of the three sections allowing participants to hear what individuals in the other classes were saying. We had a plan that we believed to be Spirit directed, but we knew that there was no way to determine the outcome.

                               
 
                                         


On August 25th we finished up our study with a group discussion. For some participants, it was frustrating that Bass did not provide more concrete answers about how to address the place of the church and Christianity in 2019 America. But that was never her purpose. Her purpose was to get us to ask questions of ourselves as she described trends that she observed and set them in the context of church history. 

Our last group discussion centered on what we should focus on next. To try to answer the question, “What were the topics discussed, or questions raised, that you would like to further explore?” There were plenty of answers that we’ll have to sort through in the coming weeks. There is an interest in learning more about spiritual practices, things like fixed hour prayer, hospitality, meditation, community…practices that have long been associated with spirituality. There is an interest in considering how Broadus currently defines church membership and exploring changes to that as we seek to live out the truth of the gospel: ”For God so loved the world…” There is an interest in gaining a greater understanding of other world religions and our relationship to them.  

Clearly Bass accomplished her purpose. We read, discussed, agreed, disagreed, and allowed the process to help us focus on Broadus and ask God “what’s next?” It will take time, but we will get to each of these topics because God’s Spirit is so clearly moving in our midst. The challenge, as it always is, will be to listen and discern and follow. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Broadus faith community!

Posted by: Admin AT 10:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

At Broadus Memorial Baptist Church we believe we are called to love God and love our neighbors. The stories you read on this blog offer a witness to the ways we respond to God's love and seek to share that love with others. 

Scripture describes the church as a body, made up of many parts. Just as your tiniest toe isn't aware of the intricate work your heart or brain do, it can sometimes happen that people in the church body only see what is happening immediately around them. Our hope is that reading these stories will help forge connection and inspire greater love and understanding for one another.

At Broadus we are a community defined by warm-hearted fellowship and thoughtful inquiry. We hope you see evidence of that in the stories we share here. We hope you know, or come to know, that you are a part of God's grand story and that you are welcome to join us, on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or any gathering in between. 

The life of faith is a journey, and we are not meant to walk it alone. Our stories connect us and we are excited to share some of ours with you. 

If you have a story you'd like to share or would like to connect in some other way you can send an email to bmbcmail@gmail.com or call (434) 977-7381.