Church Hunting? There's an App for That
The latest Pew research suggests that it would be a mistake to label nones as "secular," since 40 percent say that religion is important, and about half say they pray at least one a month. Yet the portion of nones who "seldom or never" attend church has increased from 38 percent to almost 50 percent since 2007. Greg Smith of Pew says that "perhaps the key defining characteristic of the religiously unaffiliated population is that they do not go to church."
Each major religion-research group touts its own pet theory for what's fueling the nones fire. Some cite the millennials zeitgeist, while others think that it's just more socially acceptable to label yourself as unaffiliated than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Coughlin has his own theory.
"Most Americans have had some experience with Christianity," he says, "but they don't know the depth and breadth of it. They don't know there is a place where they would feel very welcome. Part of what we're doing is giving churches a platform to show the world what they're doing. We're saying, 'Come to FaithStreet and you'll see the whole spectrum: churches in bars, or on the beach, or in airports; churches full of middle-class families, hippies, and academics.' If people understand the diversity of faith communities, they will be more likely to think about how to live out their faith."
Coughlin and his team talked with over a thousand pastors and church leaders while developing FaithStreet. He wants his team to collaborate with churches, and hopes to see not only individual churches but networks, parachurch ministries, and denominations use it as well.