The reason for the rise of the 'Nons'

The reason for the rise of the 'Nons'

The reason for the rise of the 'Nons'

With a Christian statistician and social scientist revealing that the two fastest-growing groups in American religion are the "Nones" and the "Nons," an apologist thinks the explanation is simple.

The Nones are those who have no religious faith at all. The Nons, according to social scientist and American Baptist Church pastor Ryan Burge, are those who are migrating away from denominationally affiliated churches to non-denominational ones. He says the share of Americans who identify as "non-denominational" took a sharp turn in the mid-90s, from 3-4% to now nearing 15%.

Christian apologist Alex McFarland says as mainline denominations left the faith, the faithful left them.

McFarland, Alex (Christian apologist) McFarland

"In many of the denominations, even the denominations that we have counted on to be stalwart conservative – wokeness, liberalism, and theological drift has shown itself to varying degrees, sometimes shockingly heretical degrees," he observes.

Denominations, he says, were formed around shared theological beliefs. Early on in American history, secondary issues played a big part in that.

"There were affinity groups of theological positions," McFarland explains. "The Calvinists would largely form many Presbyterian groups, and more Wesleyan-Armenian groups congregated in Methodism. And then out of the Netherlands came the Baptist world."

As far as he is concerned, as long as churches are solid on the primary issues, they can call themselves whatever they want.

"The church can take on so many forms. As long as the church is preaching the gospel, introducing people into a relationship with Christ, promoting discipleship, it is an authentic expression of the church," he summarizes.

But in recent years, he thinks most mainline denominations have lost their first love, which is why they have lost so many congregants.

"It's not merely American individualism," he concludes. "It is out of theological conviction that people have said, 'No more.'"