The research in the book American Grace has been helpful to our discussion here on this blog, and it’s given us the useful term “nones” (those who check “none” as their religious affiliation). After a conversation sometime back with a close friend who is English and planting a church in London, I’m curious about one specific trend-in-question among “nones,” and wondering if any of the amazing, smart people on this blog have any insight, anecdotally or statistically.
My English friend believes that part and parcel to “nones” rejection of religion is rejection of the idea of going to a Sunday service. In planning for his church, he is operating with the assumption that “nones” for the most part won’t go to a Sunday service, so a Sunday service can’t be a church’s front door. Instead, he is trying to think creatively about different ways for his church to have a welcoming front door.
What interests me most is his assumption: by his experience and read on the culture around him, “nones” have rejected the Sunday service. Does that feel true here in the States? On the Northside of Chicago where I am? What about those folks in Cambridge or New York? I don’t know. From what I can tell reading “Blue Ocean Churches,” sounds like the Greater Boston Vineyard’s front door has always been their Sunday service, and if there is any church where “nones” feel at home it’s GBV, right?
One key difference that often comes up when comparing religious trends in England with that of the US is that the move away from religious affiliation in England has been in the context of a legacy of state-religion while the move away from religious affiliation in American has been in the context of a legacy of separation of church and state. Does that play a role here? I don’t really know. Maybe English and American “nones” are just different in this regard? At any rate, I think my friend raises an interesting discussion. Thoughts?