One of the great connections I’ve enjoyed in recent years is with a group sponsored by the Texas Methodist Foundation made up of Large Church Executive Ministers. These men and women are drawn from churches in the Houston area as well as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro. How this Oklahoman got invited to the dance is a bit of a mystery to me. Over the years we have become dear friends and trusted co-workers and it is rare that a week goes by without an email string discussing a shared difficulty or asking the wisdom of the group on a sticky problem.
We meet three times a year to discuss challenges we face within our individual ministry settings, as well as to discuss broader trends within the United Methodist Church and the culture in which we all do ministry. A keynote speaker occupies one afternoon’s session. The the most recent speaker was Greg Smith from the Pew Foundation, which stands at the forefront of demographic trend research in areas of religious trends in America.
First, the good news: as a whole, personal involvement in a religious tradition continues to be a factor in the lives of an overwhelming percentage of Americans. Pew research says, “All told, about two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) describe themselves as religious (either in addition to be being spiritual or not). Nearly one-in-five say they are spiritual but not religious (18%), and about one-in-six say they are neither religious nor spiritual (15%).”
But where the study caught my eye was how participation and the expressed interest curve shifted when different age groups were studied. When adjustments were made tracing involvement of the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y,and the Millennial Generation, there is almost a 40% drop in those reporting a “High Religious Commitment” when comparing the youngest to the oldest segments of our population. The magnitude of this shift is important to us at Church of the Servant because it speaks to the needs of our congregation and how we can respond to the world around us. This number represents our sons and daughters, our neighbors and our friends, and the faces of untold families moving into the new housing springing up around our church campus.
How will Church of the Servant answer this need? The solutions to that question are not yet readily apparent, but with time and prayer God will show us how to step into this need.
Deep within the DNA of Church of the Servant is a willingness to respond to cultural changes and adjustments to the world around us in an attempt to present the “Good News” of Jesus Christ in a manner that can be both perceived and understood. This is who we were during our days on Northwest Expressway, and it is who God is calling us to be on North MacArthur. I hope you are as excited as I am to see what this next chapter in our history will hold!