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Nearly 6 in 10 Americans who made resolutions want deeper faith

Nearly six in 10 Americans who made New Year’s resolutions want to increase their engagement in religious activities. The big question is if the church is ready.

According to the CBS New/YouGov poll, the goal is tied with losing weight as the seventh most popular resolutions.

Dwight Widaman, Editor

“Those who already attend religious services at least weekly are overwhelmingly likely to say their resolution is to pray and attend services more,” the survey said.

American churches continue to struggle post-pandemic but the problem of engagement has been growing for decades. Almost all denominations have seen massive losses of membership. Today, even stalwart denominations like the Southern Baptists who weathered the losses in the past decade are seeing declines.

Some wrongly attribute the decline to the new catchphrase of “Christian Nationalism” (which is typically used by the left to describe more politically conservative Christians) or to hotbed social issues. Yet if you look at churches around the world, outside the sphere of American Christianity, they, too, are struggling with shrinking numbers of faithful. One need only look at Europe or Australia to find evidence.

READ: Pandemic had good and bad effects on churches

So this poll comes as somewhat of a surprise. Especially the data for the under 30 crowd and their optimism.

Around 47 percent of Americans feel hopeful about 2024, compared with 22 percent who feel discouraged and 31 percent experiencing mixed feelings, the poll results said. The leading resolutions for 2024 focus on personal health and well-being. Topping the list are goals to:

  • Improve health, 94 percent,
  • Exercise more, 88 percent,
  • Spend more time with loved ones, 84 percent,
  • Have a better diet, 81 percent,
  • Acquire new skills or hobbies, 73 percent, and
  • Quit bad habits, 70 percent.

Americans under age 30 are the most hopeful, with 64 percent looking forward to 2024 with optimism. This sentiment gradually decreases with age, dropping to 51 percent among those aged 30 to 44; 37 percent among those 45 to 64; and 39 percent in the 65 and older bracket. Similarly, 60 percent of young adults under 30 make resolutions, compared to just 15 percent of those 65 and older.

Americans, while acknowledging challenges, are expressing a collective desire for improvement, both personally and nationally, the poll found. “There is an overall emphasis on relaxation: they’d urge people to take more time off, while fewer say work harder,” the report said “They’d urge others to spend less time online (at even higher rates than they’re resolving to themselves) more than getting more online connections — all well-meaning, but perhaps easier to say than do.”

The church, however, seems ill-equiped to meet the challenges and opportunities in drawing in those who desire a closer relationship with God. Many churches have reduced outreach activities meant to help connect with the hearts of individuals and the congregation.

For small to medium-size churches the challenge is just that. Size. Smaller churches often don’t have the staff to shepherd new efforts meant to serve diverse groups of people. Church leadership is often reluctant to allow “lay” people to spearhead outreach because of the appearance of lack of control.

Gone today is the single’s group. The over 60s crowd. Outreach to young mothers and even men’s groups. Everyone is in one big “melting pot”.

Many churches have replaced what was once a basic ingredient of the thriving church congregation with small groups that meet regularly in homes.  Small groups, or home groups as some call them, are a great force in bringing together people of different demographics but it still lacks.

Home groups are not new. They’ve been around since, well, since the Apostle Paul visited believers meeting in their homes.

Before I was married, the singles offered a place where others like me could meet for fellowship, serve in the church as a group, and encourage one another during a time when there was tremendous pressure to “be married” if you were to truly fulfill your role in the church. We basically ran the entire children’s church. Here, lifelong friendships were formed and we lived out the Biblical advice for singles to serve and lead Godly lives.

That under 30 category was me. I didn’t marry until I was 30.

So I’m encouraged by the poll about young people but cautious if the church will take a pass.

A majority of people wanting to go deeper spiritually in this post-Christian age is an amazing insight.

I hope the church doesn’t miss the opportunity.

–Dwight Widaman has served as editor or publisher of Metro Voice for 34 years.





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