Imagine for a moment that you are a teenager, arriving at college for your first year, and that you come from an interfaith family. Perhaps you were raised in one religion, but now, you feel drawn to explore the other religion.
Given the widespread departure from the Church in all its varied expressions, it is a legitimate question. Add to this the reality that the Millennial generation has not only left the Church but does not seem to be returning and you have a recipe for disaster.
You don't undo those things with better packaging, or a new release of an old product. You have to do the deep, soul-baring, painful work of repentance and asking forgiveness -- and do it without caring if this person ever comes to your church or not.
Many churches are perpetually mired in process, worrying far more about protocol for committee meetings than how to become a welcoming body. With your wariness about the glacial pace at which institutions change, you can help the church become more dynamic.
What is the proper response to bad religion? Some argue that the answer to bad religion is no religion. A growing number of "new atheists" argue that since religion can be toxic, we need to get rid of faith altogether. But that's a weak argument.
The increasing number of Americans raised in nonreligious homes presents a significant challenge to churches. Instead of luring back those who were once part of a religious community, they now face the prospect of trying to attract those with no formative religious experiences to draw on.
Christians used to be the prime authority on these matters in American society. Now the media and Internet do not have as much of a stake in maintaining traditional boundaries and have instead leveled the playing field completely. Religion can mean everything and anything.
In the same way as you would never use a Stradivarius as a door stop or a Porsche as a plough, we must strive to not cause the masses to believe that authentic, transformational, brilliant and beautiful spirituality is just so much vapor.
Study after study tells us that Americans are leaving religion in droves, with the number of spiritual but not religious increasing dramatically. Though some of these predictions may be an over-dramatization, significant changes in organized religion are inevitable and necessary.
Hardly a month goes by when we don't read about the decline or collapse of organized religion in America. But religion -- including the organized sort -- remains vital and vibrant, defying the predictions of doom that appear with numbing regularity.
I was raised outside of organized religion, in a spiritual-but-not-religious home. I obviously did not stay a "none." I'm a pastor in the United Church of Christ and I try, for better or worse, to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Many books have characterized interfaith marriage as a challenge, a risk, a threat or worse. Erika B. Seamon brings a new perspective to the topic in her recent book, which chronicles the history of intermarriage and the effects of contemporary interfaith marriages on religious institutions.