Text: Judges 17:1-6
Living in New York for so many years, I had many non-practicing Jewish friends. What’s a non-practicing Jew? Well, they were immersed in that unique culture with its food, dances, customs, holidays and Yiddish expressions, but they never prayed and never attended Synagogue. In the last 20 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of “non-practicing Christians,” those folks with childhood memories of Christian holidays, and a vague emotional attachment to the faith, but essentially not practicing. Or if they do think about faith matters, they believe that they can do so quite well without any contact with other Christians. In this week’s sermon, I’m calling this trend “Backyard Religion.”
The research is clear and consistent from respected researchers like the Pew Research Center and the Gallup Organization. America is quickly becoming secular like many of the European countries. In the United States, those holding membership in Christian, Jewish, and Moslem places of worship are only 50% of the population. That means each faith group, no matter what name it calls God, is a minority group. Protestants should take no comfort in knowing that the Roman Catholic Church has the highest loss numbers.
If Christians in the first three centuries could hear these statistics, they would throw up their hands and say, “So what?” God’s faithful will always be a faithful remnant.” Yet the trend continues. You’ll catch hints of this whenever you hear people say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious. I can worship God on the golf course. Organized religion is a corrupt, human institution that has brought us the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch burning, holy wars, and meddling in politics. My faith, on the other hand is simple, pure, personal, and holy.”
This week, buck the trend and join with us for worship.