Organized religion is losing its followers. “For the first time ‘No Religion’ has topped a survey of Americans’ religious identity, according to a new analysis by a political scientist. The non-religious edged out Catholics and evangelicals in the long-running General Social Survey." Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor, found that 23.1% of Americans identify as “No Religion.” In the survey, 23 percent say they are Catholic and 22.5 percent say they are evangelical Christians.
Due to this trend, houses of worships are having to find other ways to engage with a populous that has less time, a heightened allergic reaction to hypocrisy, and in large part less disposable income. Even more worrisome for religious leaders is that younger generations are leaving in even larger numbers, and/or never joining in the first place. “For Millennials and even GenXers, the most common religion is no religion at all. The Nones claim 44% of the 18–29 age group, and nearly that (43%) among those who are 30–44.” That is a dramatic change from other generations. "Among Americans older than 65, just 21% … say they are atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular. However, even that 21% is a five-point rise from where the over-65 group was in 2015, when just 16% identified themselves this way.”
Needless to say, work needs to be done if this trend is to be stopped, let alone reversed.
One way in which houses of worship are attempting to stem the tide is by adopting for-profit innovations purposed to help their communities become economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable for all of their residents. That's right, houses of worship are making investments in innovations purposed to rise up their communities whether or not those benefitting are simultaneously praying for the support they need.
Our recent research shows that houses of worship are:
Investing in and hosting incubators and accelerators for local entrepreneurs
Funding the adoption of community capital innovations
Becoming "Impact Investors" in community born Impact Innovations
Holding free community entrepreneurship classes
Providing funding for community residents to become Certified in Impact Economics
Adopting the BALLE tenets of a Local Living Economy
If the future of capitalism is "Inclusive", and the purpose is to redefine access to the opportunity to participate in and personal benefit from (financially) the drive for a sustainable future, houses of worship are starting to be on the cutting edge.
Even though numbers are down, houses of worship still remain some of the most embedded, trusted, empathetic, and knowledgable institutions within their communities. We believe they have the potential to formally become the most important hubs for Impact Entrepreneurship and Investing in the world, and quite possibly the most important contributors to the future of capitalism.
A rallying cry for young entrepreneurs is "disrupt, democratize, and dis-intermediate". Wouldn't it be ironic if some of the most "institutionalized" organizations in the world became catalysts for this to occur.