“The Rise of the Nuns”

Author: Pastor Charles A. Tapp
June 01, 2016

At a recent pastors’ conference one of the presenters made a statement that I found quite interesting, as well as confusing. He mentioned that one of the fastest growing segments in American society today is that of the nuns. Now at the time I just couldn’t quite figure out why there was such an increase among women in the United States who wanted to devote their lives to the church and become nuns. Was there something that I missed? Was this the new revival that so many had been looking for? As the presenter continued to share, I quickly realized that it was not the nuns that he was referring to but the “nones.”

If you still find yourself to be somewhat confused, as was I, nones simply refer to that segment of our society who finds themselves among the religiously unaffiliated in our country. Nones is a shorthand that is used to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular.” This fast growing trend is so prevalent that it has crossed and continues to cross all racial, gender, as well as socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the most recent statistics, nones make up roughly 25% of our adult population and its greatest stronghold, more than any other group, is young adults.

This is not only news because it is interesting, but because as the church, this necessitates that we create a strategy to reach this unique population with the gospel of Jesus. In his book, The Rise of the Nones, author James Emery White mentions that if the church is going to be effective in reaching this segment of our society it necessitates that we develop not only a new approach, but a new mentality to go with it. White says, “What is called for is nothing less than a revolution of mindset and strategy.”

As we move forward to reach this fast growing segment with the gospel of Jesus Christ, let me call for caution: Before we begin to develop a strategy, whatever it might be, let us first take the time to talk with them and find out why they are in this group in the first place. What many of you may find startling, and perhaps some not, is that to begin this conversation we may not have to go any further than our own homes. Nones are everywhere and, believe it or not, there may be some closet nones hiding out right here even in our church. My prayer is that we won’t run them away, but that we do something that so many of us well-meaning believers find challenging to do at times, and that is to listen without casting judgment.

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