“From Institutions to Faith” – The Church Network Conference General Session


The Church Network’s 61st Annual Conference continues in National Harbor Maryland and Dr. Diane Butler Bass led the opening general session discussing the spiritual revolution in America. Over the last 40 years churches and other religious organizations have diversified. The number of those not affiliated with a church home has grown significantly over the past 40 years. Bass stated that 38% of Americans ages 18-29 are unaffiliated with organized religion. Furthermore, attendance in white congregations is declining while attendance in churches of color is growing.

However, Per Dr. Bass, the percentage of people who believe in God has remained constant. In fact, the number of people who have experienced a spiritual or mystical experience has continued to grow since 1962. Forty-eight percent of Americans believe they have had a spiritual experience with God in the last week. In a recent survey, across all demographics, Americans responded positively to the following set of questions:

  • How often do you experience a connection to all of life? 
  • How often do you feel deep inner peace or harmony?
  • How often do you feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe?
  • How often do you feel a deep connection with nature and the earth?

Furthermore, Bass cited, 8 out of 10 Americans replied that they have experienced a strong sense of gratitude. Americans are finding a personal faith. This change represents a shift in priorities from a faith found in institutions to experience.

For more information on the reshaping and reorganization of faith check out Dr. Bass’ new book, Grounded.

Stay tuned for more insights from The Church Network’s 2017 Conference from our delegates Becky DaVee and Erika Norton.