From Voltaire to the philosophers of secularism, many have suggested that God is dead. It’s always been obvious, however, from the vibrant religious culture in the Judeo-Christian world, that God is very much alive. But this culture has changed.

Attendance and participation in religious services are down. Some have taken this as a sign of validation and are working hard to convince the world that organized religion is headed for the same tragic end as the Tyrannosaurus rex.

That’s not true. God is alive. His people are still alive and pursuing a relationship with him, and they’re doing it in local religious communities across the world. But we would be accused of having brains the size of the aforementioned T-rex if we ignored the fact that negative changes have occurred.

We could try to blame this on a pandemic. It would be a reasonable argument as to why seats are empty and churches are closing their doors. The truth is, we all know that this has been happening for longer than the world has known about COVID-19.

What Has Changed?

Hundreds of studies can suggest answers: millennials and Gen Z rejecting the religious upbringing of their parents, the rise of the postmodern perspective, the marriage of religion and politics that has driven many to see religious communities as representative of a political party instead of God, apathy, and more. The stats are comprehensive, compelling, telling, and honestly, scary. Oh yeah, and the pandemic didn’t help.

I want to suggest there is a deeper and rarely discussed cause for some of what has changed. It’s a sobering possibility, so brace yourselves.

People are bored. They’re looking for something more than what they’re currently getting. To be a disciple is to be a learner, and without in-depth learning, new revelations, and engagement with the biblical text, spiritual growth stagnates and excitement wanes. The message of salvation preached every Sunday from pulpits is important and foundational. Still, disciples of Jesus are desperate for a deeper knowledge of the Word of God beyond that first step of salvation. Disengagement leads to discouraged, disconnected, and discontented disciples who have just sort of tuned out.