Do you know about the “General Social Survey” and religion? In the April edition of First Things, Mark L. Movsesian writes that the rise of the “nones,” also known as “spiritual but not religious,” in America isn’t quite the disaster for Catholicism that we once thought. In fact, the number of those who consider themselves to be religiously devout has remained steady for decades, but what’s being hollowed out is those that we might consider “culturally Catholic,” attending Sunday Mass infrequently and existing on the margins of parish life.
This has huge implications for your parish’s mission. Demographically, Catholic parishes can still draw on the same core of devout believers as they always have for leadership positions, volunteers, and neighborhood evangelists. (Though you have to keep in mind one important thing right now – that core is rapidly aging.)
Interestingly enough, Millenials and Gen Zers are more interested in religion than the two generations that precede them, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The difference is that these people need to be completely evangelized since it’s likely they grew up in homes of lapsed or non-Christians.
Consider focusing your outreach first on households that have lapsed in their participation in parish life – one sincere invitation from a volunteer may bring an entire family from the edge of parish life to the center. Those are souls, reclaimed for the Gospel – all thanks to, oddly enough, the General Social Survey and religion. And if you’re looking for where to get started…may we suggest you listen to the Every Knee Shall Bow podcast?