Week of September 21, 2018
SBNR is an abbreviation used by those who study religious practice. It designates the “spiritual but not religious,” an expression that became popular as researchers tracked this new trend. While the percentage of persons polled who claim to have some form of religious faith or concern for spiritual things has remained fairly constant over the years, the number of persons participating in churches and synagogues has been in steady decline. The interpretation? More and more persons are finding their spiritual needs not being met through traditional institutions. They remain “spiritual,” but not officially “religious.” In fact, the SBNR is the fastest growing “church” in America!
Current statistics show that the segment of the population with no interest at all in religion remains in the 20% range overall, but among younger adults the percentage of the “non-religious” is upwards of 35% and growing. Those persons who are nominally members of a church but not actively involved hold steady at about 6% of the population. Formerly, upwards of 60% of Americans were deeply involved in their religious communities. That number is slipping fast, and now less than 48% of the population is both spiritual AND religious.
This brings us to the last and fastest growing segment, the SBNR. These are the people who are spiritual but not involved in a religious community (like a church). The SBNR has grown in recent years from 19% to 27%. You can learn more about this group by reading a Pew Research study, America's Changing Religious Landscape.
Most churches interested in attracting new members focus on the low-hanging fruit of those persons who are already both religious and spiritually motivated. This fruit is low-hanging, but also rapidly diminishing, as more and more younger adults leave the church of their youth and don’t return. There is an old saying that the church is but one generation away from extinction. Current trends support that old saw!
Which brings us back to the SBNR, those who are spiritually hungry but not finding nourishment for their souls in the church. The SBNR – whether they be persons on our church rolls, or the multitude who live in our neighborhood or larger community of Richmond – have always made up the prime audience for life-transforming, world-changing religious movements. And the SBNR remain the primary audience for the gospel today.
Over its long history, FPC has been built and has flourished as a congregation of traditionally religious folk. Other congregations have found creative ways to engage the SBNR of our world. I doubt FPC should seek to become a congregation primarily for the SBNR – you can teach an old dog new tricks, but you can’t change a dog into a cat. BUT, as FPC moves forward in its mission and ministry, I challenge you to keep the SBNR in frontal view, with only a peek now and then at the world you see in your rearview mirror.
See you in worship – it’s Evangelism Sunday.
Thanks for listening,
Please keep in your prayers:
Those with special concerns:
Joe and Liz Bartol on the birth of their son, Joseph William Bartol, Jr., who was born September 12, 2018. Also celebrating are Joey’s grandmother, Debbie Bartol; his great grandparents, Bill and Peggy Sears; and his great aunt, Terrie Sears.
Members and family serving in the military:
Jenny Sigel Burkett
Nathan Thomas Meade
Please let us know if you have a joy or concern that we may lift up in prayer. Contact Mary Kay Collins, or any of our pastors. If you are in immediate need of pastoral care, please call the church office at 358-2383. During night and weekend hours, your call will be transferred to a pastor on call.
Friday, Sept. 21
Billy George, Jr.
Saturday, Sept. 22
John Sims, IV
Sunday, Sept. 23
Coleman Rice, Jr.
Monday, Sept. 24
Tuesday, Sept. 25
Mary Kendall Pennington
Wed., Sept. 26
Thursday, Sept. 27
Friday, Sept. 28
Hiter Harris, IV
Ray Slabaugh, III