- Vibrant Faith and Active Engagement - A world in which people of all ages and generations are actively engaged in a Christian church, are spiritually committed, and growing in their faith.
- Spiritual but not Religious - A world in which people are spiritually hungry and searching for God and the spiritual life, but most likely are not affiliated with organized religion and an established Christian tradition.
- Unaffiliated and Uninterested - A world in which people experience little need for God and the spiritual life and are not affiliated with organized religion and established Christian churches.
- Uncommitted and Participating - A world in which people attend church activities, but are not actively engaged in their church community or spiritually committed.
The conclusion is that we all know someone who fits in to each category, often in our own families. From my experience, the majority of those entering our church buildings most likely fit in to scenarios 1 and 4. Those who fit in to 2 and 3 may be there on occasion for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are visiting family, feel obligated to attend, are dating someone from scenario 1 or for some reason may feel it is important to bring their children and attend from time to time while dropping them off for religious education. To reflect on the four scenarios and recognize that not everyone we encounter fits into scenario 1, is a good place to start when we plan worship and programs in our faith communities.
Often trainings and workshops offered prepare leadership to plan and implement programs with the expectation that everyone be involved and actively engaged. I believe, although our intent is genuine, we often neglect to take into account that some may be from a different scenario. I often use the analogy of learning a foreign language and think about the steps needed to welcome those who do not speak our language into our community. Those who do not speak our language may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed that they will make a mistake. It may appear they have no interest or are not involved because they do not want to be. The truth is they do not understand but would most likely be open to learning. I believe by using this same analogy that the same is true for many from scenario 4 who are not actively engaged or spiritually committed.
- When you think of your faith community, is there someone you would describe as belonging in scenario 4?
- Can you envision some ways to engage that person the same way you would approach someone who does not speak your language?
In our congregations and parishes we need to make it clear there are no reservations needed!