- White provides a great blend of cultural trends, sociological research and insightful commentary into real-life ministry. The result is a breadth of understanding into the minds and hearts of the religiously unaffiliated that is helpful for anyone, especially ministers in settings that are struggling to reach this new demographic.
The Weakest Aspect:
- There isn’t a lot of practical application. White does a decent job of sharing stories related to his points and even provides discussion questions for the reader to chew on, but some may be left scratching their heads pondering the “So, now what?” question in response to his compelling arguments and cases.
10 Summary Quotes:
- “While only 15 percent [of young adults] would be committed to any type of religious faith, 25 percent are indifferent, another 5 percent are disconnected, and another 10 percent are completely irreligious. That’s 40 percent of all emerging adults clearly distanced from religion” (15).
- 10 characteristics of a “none”: male, young, white, not necessarliy atheists, not very religious, Democrat, in favor of abortion and gay marriage being legal, liberal or moderate, not necessarily hostile towards religious institutions, more than likely a westerner (21-22).
- “Among those who say they believe ‘nothing in particular,’ 88 percent are not even looking for a specific faith or religion (26).
- “A particular faith used to be wrong on the basis of what one perceived to be the truth; now a faith is wrong for claiming there is truth” (51).
- “existing Christians must die to themselves for the cause. No longer can the mission be about us–it must be about those who have yet to darken our doorsteps” (76).
- “we may have lost the opportunity to talk to them [the nones] and do life with them, but we haven’t lost the opportunity to do good to them, before them, and with them–good that will then open their ears and hearts to the message of the Gospel” (100).
- “When you drill deeper into the research surrounding the rise of the nones, you will find two interesting dynamics: (1) The negative numbers are coming largely from the falling away of hundreds of thousands of Catholics. Mainline Protestants aren’t doing well either. In other words, there’s a big loss in the middle of the religious spectrum. (2) The faith groups that did see growth were at the poles, meaning the far ends of the religious spectrum–the ones with fire in their belly. At one end are the aforementioned nones, and on the other are the largely conservative and mostly evangelical nondenominational groups. In other words, the ones who are adamant about believing in nothing in particular or the ones who are adamant about believing in something specific are the only ones attracting converts” (123).
- “People need common intellectual barriers removed but it quickly progresses to the heart of the matter: meaning” (132).
- “while three out of every four churchgoers say they have significant relationships with people at their church, they admit they don’t make an effort with new people. In fact, only one in every six even try” (154).
- “at the time of the American Revolution, only about one-fifth of Americans could be considered ‘churched.’ By the time of the Civil War, that number had increased to one-third… ‘The churching of America,’ Finke and Stark offer, ‘was accomplished by aggressive churches committed to vivid otherworldliness'” (181).
James Emery White, The Rise of the Nones. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2014.