May 1st, 2014 was National Prayer Day and I attended the celebration at City Hall in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
A tiny group of people showed up. Just about half of them were the speakers, musicians and organizers who procured the space and participated in the event. I could not help thinking about the recent report that the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) issued regarding the findings of The Hartford Institute for Religious Research.
The Hartford Institute found that religious attendance is either in decline or stagnating across most of the churches in the United States. It showed that although mega churches are still growing, the reason for their growth is the assimilation of nearby congregations whose smaller churches have failed and slipped off the radar. Also, smaller churches with congregations of less than 200 are showing growth, but, they are mostly start-up churches with less than a fifty-fifty chance of still being active five years from now. With regard to that, The Institute stated 4,000 churches are closing every year.
What does that say about the spiritual character of our country? What does that say about the effectiveness of our spiritual leaders? The media, the entertainment industry, the political arena, the corporate world and, of course, the industrial/military complex are all focused on greed, vulgarity and basic human drives. Where is the spiritual element that would and could raise the mind set of the population to a higher standard with more refined ideals?
It’s becoming more and more lacking. Why? Perhaps because the religious institutions in our culture do not meet the spiritual needs of our culture. Perhaps because the orthodoxy in charge hangs too steadfastly to ancient ideas about the why and what of our spiritual nature. Too steadfastly on fundamental interpretations of scripture. Too steadfastly on traditions like biblical prophecy, the global flood, the creation stories, the mass murderous champions of god and so much more that is simply untrue and is driving the population away.
Yet, buried under the misinformation and misdirection that is woven throughout the bible, there is the promise of a Christ consciousness that is the salvation of the world and that needs to be surfaced and promoted. Now. While there is still time.
American churches, take notice. National Prayer Day, 2014 is a wake up call.