I’m thinking back to last Easter. We were in the beginnings of the Covid pandemic.
I remember watching a church service online. It was the First Unity Church in St. Petersburg. Marianne Williamson was the guest speaker. It was a perfect Easter/rebirth/Covid pandemic sermon. It must have been a good message—I still think about it a year later.
Growing up, Easter was an event in our house. New suits, long church services, big meals with all the relatives after. I remember hearing a preacher say, “Easter Sunday is the Super Bowl of the God business.”
I’ll admit that I am no longer the same church-going kid who grew up going to the First Baptist Church in Paris, Texas. it appears that a lot of other people have changed habits, too.
In fact, there’s a new survey out that doesn’t bode well for organized religion or the “God business.”
The piece in the Washington Post caught my attention. For the first time since 1937, when Gallup first asked the question, church membership has dropped below fifty percent. It’s at 48% today. If you are wondering, in 1937 church membership was at 73%.
There is a lot to think about here. It’s not that people are losing their faith. It’s just that they don’t seem to think going to a church, synagogue or mosque is the best way to practice it.
The Covid pandemic has encouraged this thinking. When churches closed, people started practicing their faith on their own.
It’s a generational thing, too. Older people are more likely to still affiliate themselves with a specific church. Younger people are not.
The Post talked to Ryan Burge. He’s a pastor and political science professor at Eastern Illinois University. His thought on the subject is that Christians may still attend church… they just don’t consider membership to be all that important.
Burge also believes that in the next thirty years the United States will not have a dominant religion. He says, “We have to start thinking about what the world looks like in terms of politics, policy, social service. How do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked when Christians are half of what it was? Who picks up the slack, especially if the government isn’t going to?”
My take on all this: I’ve learned along the way that I don’t need a church to practice my faith. I can read and meditate on my own.
With that said, I’ll miss the old days of Easter Sunday in Paris, Texas, this year. Okay, not the church service. Not even the new suit. I’ll miss the traditional lunch we would eat after church. Easter Sunday dinner. There was ham, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, homemade yeast rolls, and banana pudding for dessert. Always banana pudding.
Yeah, I’m missing Easter back home.