Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

church-1912652_1280Do you go to church? When you ask your friends this question, what do they say? Does religion influence your life on a daily basis?

A number of people you might informally poll may represent a trend we are seeing across the country. People may say they are spiritual, even that they believe in God, but do not go to church. In fact, only 36% of Americans said they go to an organized church service when they were polled by Gallup.

While 74% of Americans still identify as Christians, they have less faith in organized religion than they did a decade ago. Around 21% say they do not practice any formal religion.

Religion loses its influence in a culture when it is not practiced regularly among the masses. Take most television shows and movies–our daily pulpit. You rarely hear religious views written in to scripts. For example, people can be dying and there is no mention of an afterlife. Relationship problems never mention prayer or values that could help people in crisis. I just saw a science fiction movie about space and the universe and there was not one reference to God. Really, you are alone in the universe and you never consider the possibility of God? Unfortunately, this is often true of most media. And media promote values and a views of life that influence behavior.

The importance of practicing a religion is that it influences our daily lives and the way we treat each other. Religion grounds us with important values. And the way a person is discipled into their faith usually requires some religious training and learning. So the more we don’t participate in church or organized religion, the more we tend to drift away from the apologetics of our faith. Then religion doesn’t inform our actions. The fall out of this is often mental health issues that we don’t connect to the resiliency and hope that true religion brings to peoples’ lives. Religion, is not a weakness as Freud once posed, but a way to organize your life with meaning and purpose.

A new year is coming. Perhaps going back to church is a goal to consider. The more discipled in the issues of faith we become, the more we can influence our culture for good and bring hope to people. And right now, that would be a welcomed influence.

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