Reader feedback: What is the future of non-denominational Christianity in the U.S.?
Are Churches of Christ on the decline in the U.S.? The numbers seem to say yes.
If that’s the case, why is non-denominational Christianity on the rise?
As The Christian Chronicle prepares coverage of the latest data from 21st Century Christian, the Nashville, Tenn.-based publisher of the directory Churches of Christ in the United States, we’re looking for feedback and insight into the numbers — and the legacy of Churches of Christ in America’s religious landscape.
Carl Royster, data compiler for the directory, made some observations about the numbers. Improved data collection over the years has contributed to a better understanding of the fellowship as a whole, he said. Royster also cited changing demographics in the U.S. population, declining “brand loyalty” among younger believers, growth of independent or community churches and an increasing number of Americans who consider themselves unaffiliated with any religious group.
(We covered several of these trends in 2009, when the previous edition of the directory was released. In 2008, Chronicle Managing Editor Bobby Ross Jr. reported on a Pew Forum study that revealed 44 percent of Americans have changed religions or denominations from the one — if any — in which they were raised. A few months later I interviewed teenage church members who told me that they’re looking for meaning — not entertainment — at church.)
What do the numbers mean to you? We often hear about the U.S. becoming a “post-Christian” nation, following the same course as Europe, but we also hear the term “post-denominational” used to describe Christianity in America. At the core of the Restoration Movement was a plea to move away from denominational creeds and embrace pure, New Testament Christianity, using the Bible as our sole guide (and, if you will, our “soul guide.”)
What does it mean to be a non-denominational Christian in a post-denominational world? How do you see Churches of Christ — and our call to reject human creeds — impacting the religious landscape of the U.S. today?
Please include your full name, home congregation, city and state in case we decide to quote you.