I have decided (or resigned myself to the idea) that I will never find a church experience that will completely satisfy me. I wonder if my wife and I will ever find one that we both can agree and feel comfortable in together. That's not because we don't agree about church, but that we have discovered over our years together that we have different desires and ways of experiencing God. Think Five Love Languages of church-speak. So I equally wondered how our readership here related to Barna's scientific poll.
Here are the results:
I expected that our readership would be more progressive than the average respondent to a Barna poll, but what surprised me that while 82% of those who took my survey are willing to try a new church and 28% of the respondents attend either a house or marketplace church, only 16% of BWC respondents are tired of the typical church experience. The popular response to that question were 66% of you that said that the usual type of church experience is "ok - I tolerate it."
Being an unscientific survey, I'm not sure what to make of this dichotomy. I don't want to read too much into it, but I'm wondering if any of the following scenarios would fit to this:
A) the house and marketplace church experiences are the same as a traditional, typical bricks and mortar churchI'd love to read comments if options A or B fit your experience, but option C can be supported in the 87% of BWC respondents that develop their religious beliefs on their own as opposed to based on the church they attend, and 92% of you responded that you feel that you can carry out and pursue your faith in a different environment from a typical church.
B) there is a a resignation that alternatives to typical church won't be any better
C) identity and community based/confined within typical church experience isn't as significant
Because this type of topic is best discussed as a conversation (insert Tim is an emergent joke here), I have some relatively direct questions:
- If most of us are simply tolerating our churches or church experience, what are the reasons we continue to attend?
- If the beliefs and doctrines of the churches we attend do not provide our religious beliefs, why do we support their authority, leadership, or influence through our attendance (and I assume giving)?
Female - 48% / Male - 52%2% of the respondents said they were Catholic, 84% said Protestant, no one claimed to be Orthodox, and 13% said they considered themselves Other. The "Others" were given the opportunity to comment, and here are their responses:
Thank you all who responsed. I really appreciate and look forward to more conversations.
- I am tired of labels and denominations. They're useless
- Protestant with a healthy respect for other traditions
- Some dude trying to follow the Christ
- I find truth and beauty in the three other choices (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox) but I feel that If I choose one of those I must somehow disagree with everything they do. So I would rather just be called a follower of Jesus
- Protestant, but leaning toward converting to Catholic
- some vague form of post-evangelical post-Western-Christendon quasi-Protestant-ish
- A plain old follower of Jesus
PS - To remove any presupposed context that I lean towards or am anti-church, my real motivations are that I tend to flip-flop between being totally (and lazily) dependent on church as my only God-experience and totally and independently dependent on finding a whole new way of experiencing God in community. Some periods of time I could skip church for a whole month and feel as close to God as I ever have through my fellowship with others and personal readings of scripture and faith books. Other periods if I miss a week of church, I feel completely lost and nothing I do Monday - Saturday seem to get me back on track.