Episode 148 | VFL Reads: The Misunderstood Reason Millions Of Americans Stopped Going To Church

Season 3, Episode 12

November 22, 2023 • Autumn Gardner, Hunter Beaumont

“Forty million Americans have stopped attending church in the past 25 years. That’s something like 12 percent of the population, and it represents the largest concentrated change in church attendance in American history.” Religious abuse, moral failure of church leaders, and the pressures of culture that lead to deconstruction of faith all contribute to “dechurching.” Surprisingly, research reveals a less apparent reason driving the statistic cited above: a slow drift away from church participation.

In this episode, Autumn and Hunter discuss an Atlantic article by Jake Meador that examines this slow drift. Meador suggests a response to waning participation in American churches. He states that churches in our cultural climate must call their people to a more committed, robust, interdependent way of being the body of Christ.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

"The Misunderstood Reason Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church" by Jake Meador

"The Great Dechurching: Who’s Leaving, Why Are They Going, and What Will It Take to Bring Them Back?" by Jim Davis, Michael Graham, et al

Episode 160 | The Church & Higher Ed, Part 1: Tension Points

February 28, 2024 • Autumn Gardner, Dave Morlan

Historically, the University owes its existence to the Church, as the Medieval Church played a central, if not exclusive, role in establishing the earliest universities. In the 18th century, the School began to separate itself from its Christian roots and ceded increasing control to the State. Even so, the School and the Church shared some common purpose: to shape individuals into participants in society whose vision for the good life included care for neighbors, civic action, and understanding of the world. In the present American system of higher education, which includes both secular and religious institutions, that shared purpose has waned. Trust in the University is low, and higher education as a whole is struggling to find its footing in the world of rapid technological development. In part one of this five-part series, Dave and Autumn discuss the tensions within Christian Higher Ed. They consider the unique opportunity for churches to respond thoughtfully to the state of the University and shifting cultural tides by deeply rooting the family of God in biblical truth.

Episode 159 | Q&R: New Birth

February 21, 2024 • Autumn Gardner, Hunter Beaumont

Does Scripture teach or emphasize a “moment” of salvation? What is a biblical understanding of “conversion?” Hunter and Autumn respond to a listener's question about justification with an examination of Jesus’ teaching on new birth from John 3:1-15.

Episode 158 | VFL Reads: The Flip Side To Church As Family

February 14, 2024 • Autumn Gardner, Hunter Beaumont

Does “Church as Family” convey an unrealistic portrait of the church, leading people to believe they will encounter loyal, committed, honorable brothers and sisters, perpetuating disillusionment and hurt if they don’t? Would we better serve people to gently adjust their expectations to level with the messy, dysfunctional family that seems to match their experience? Trevin Wax considers these questions in an article recently posted on The Gospel Coalition. Hunter and Autumn comment on the article and suggest that expectations of the church are best when leveled with Jesus’ and the Apostles’ depictions of the family of God rather than with our own disappointing experiences.