The blog of Dr Glenn Andrew Peoples on Theology, Philosophy, and Social Issues

Membership vs Faith


This is a brief comment on something that just caught my eye and jogged my memory. Every now and then someone points out that affiliation with a Christian church has declined steeply over the last half century in New Zealand. Now, I’m not the sort of myopic person to think that trends in my own neighbourhood are global indicators of anything. But my other and perhaps more interesting thought is that this shows much less than one might suppose. The nature of the relationship between Christian faith and official membership of a denomination has shifted significantly. The reality is that this generation, as opposed to that of the mid twentieth century, is much less likely to see official membership as important. This is all the more so in large evangelical or Pentecostal churches where the question of church membership might never even arise.

It was interesting to see this thought reflected in an article in the LA Times today, citing a study that illustrates the fact that a decline in church affiliation is not the result of a lack of religious conviction in young people.


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  1. I speak as a relatively young single person in Los Angeles.

    I think part of the problem with a decline in official membership is our mobility. Since transferring down her for college in 2004, I don’t think I have lived in one place for longer than six or eight months. I can’t remember all the addresses I have had.

    Changing locations often means changing church. It makes a long-term commitment to a denomination difficult. Also, I realize (though it is hard to admit it sometimes) that I need to be around Christians who are close to my age. This means often means that I must attend churches that are large non-denoms or something similar rather than find the local LCMS or ELCA church even though I am very comfortable with the Lutheran tradition when it comes to worship and liturgy.

  2. Ali G

    Its still very wonderful news.

    And hopefully this generations children will take it even further,and flag faith altogether.

  3. Ali G, you assume that a move from one form of faith to another is a move away from faith, and that by going further down that path, they would give faith up.

    Such faith you have. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Ali G

    Oh well at least my faith is worthwhile ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. *shrugs* How would I know?

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