As children’s ministry leaders it is wise to consider the research as we investigate ways to maintain a balance between the tension of cultural relevance and being a prophetic voice into the culture. For example, I think many churches are so concerned with being relevant that they say what people want to hear, and thus have lost their prophetic voice into the culture. They have ceased engaging the mission to which God has called them, at least to some degree. Other churches swing to the other end of the spectrum, concerning themselves with proclaiming the truth, or at least their denominational brand of truth, to such an extent that they have forgotten how to engage the culture. In fact, they often have become isolationist, living near or among the culture, but becoming unrecognizable to it, and thus irrelevant. So, there are two major extremes.
Yet, there are many churches who navigate somewhere in between these two extremes, some experiencing modest growth and others experiencing phenomenal growth, often through the transfer of Christians from other churches to the new phenomenon.
The website below contains the results of an extensive study which helps to shed light on dynamics taking place in the U.S. American religious landscape. Although I have not probed the raw data in-depth, it seems to be a significant research study on the state of religion in the USA. I imagine that from this research, we can glean insight into the local cultures where we minister.
From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:
“An extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life details the religious affiliation of the American public and explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.”