EVERYWHERE I GO I’m having the same conversation: Young and old alike seem to be streaming out of the church. On Oct. 17, the Pew Research Center released an update on America’s changing religious landscape. According to Pew, “The share of U.S. adults who are white born-again or evangelical Protestants now stands at 16 percent, down from 19 percent a decade ago.” Christians are attending church at the same rate as a decade ago, but fewer people are identifying as Christian.
Church-attendance rates among affiliated Christians haven’t risen as the dispassionate have left. It seems passion for church is dimming even among the affiliated. In conversations across America, I hear the same mantra: “Church hurts too much.”
I get it.
I haven’t had a home church since December 2015. On that last Sunday, amid the river of hashtagged lives that has flowed across social media since Trayvon Martin’s murderer was set free in 2013, a pastor rose to the stage. White, male, and hip, he stood in the heart of empire—Washington, D.C.—and flipped through sacred texts written by brown, colonized, and serially enslaved people, landing on the book of Acts. He read a passage from the book that chronicles how the Holy Spirit moved through the earliest church to destroy hierarchies of human belonging imposed by empire. He read the passage and never came back to it. Later, hundreds of people swayed to three chords, inspired by the Bible’s teaching on how to overcome conflict at a workplace.