After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God." John 6:66-69
Here's a question: what is the second largest religious group in the USA?
I'll give you a hint: Catholics are first with 22 percent of the population. But what group is second? Are you thinking Baptists, Methodists, Mormons? Nope, those are wrong.
The second largest religious group in the USA are the "Nones." That's right. According to a new report released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, it is the Nones. The Nones are the folks who when asked what religion do they believe in or affiliated with end up replying, "I'm an atheist" or "an agnostic" or "nothing in particular."
These Nones count for almost 20 percent of our population. Perhaps, not surprisingly, the largest segment of the Nones is the young adults, those who are aged 18 to 22. More than one third of them say they have no connection to any kind of religion.
And just in case you are wondering where are these Nones coming from, the answer is simple; they are our children and grandchildren. They are the folks who have looked at church and found it wanting. Sadly, they ended up throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When they walked away from the church, they also ended up walking away from their Savior.
Now a number of reasons have been suggested to explain this drift away from religion:
* Some say it is because people are no longer as likely to join an organization.
* Others say it is because America is becoming more secularized.
* Still others say it is because the younger folks like to do things to show their faith and not just sit and listen.
There is probably some truth in all these explanations. Me, I'm not so much interested in the why as much as I am the what can I do to help turn things around? How do we get through to them the message Peter expressed so beautifully? How do we let them know that Jesus alone has the words of eternal life?
Once again there are a number of answers. Certainly, we can pray for these folks. We can let them know that "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" also was and remains a Savior of great strength and power. We need to let them know it was not the Roman nails, but Jesus' dedication to saving our souls that kept Him on the cross.
How to reach them? How about we invite these Nones to join us in church activities, which are worthwhile, fulfilling, and glorify the Savior, even as they benefit our neighbor.
Oh, please don't underestimate the importance of the word "invite" in the previous paragraph. Once I asked the Lutheran Laymen's League board of governors how they got started in working with an organization that brought Christ to the nations. Every one of them said it was because a man they respected personally invited and brought them to their group.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, today we pray for those who have judged Jesus by how we represent the Redeemer. Help us do all we can so that those who today say they are affiliated with the Nones, may someday worship the One. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries