Whether religion itself (or, to be specific, the way Americans embody it) has led us here, or whether this was bound to happen anyway, is beside the point. This is where we are, and the question is, what should people of faith do about it?
Let me first suggest some things we should not do, because to some degree we've done them already, and they've proven themselves pretty darn ineffective, even counter-productive:
We should not beat these folks over the head with a religion they say they neither need nor want.
We should not condescendingly quote to them scripture from a Bible they don't read.
We should not yell and scream, at them or at our own, about the fast-approaching end of the world and overall decline of society.
Those of us in the church should not think the church is dying.
We should not live in fear.
So now here's what we should do:
We should, first and foremost, listen. Just listen. We do a lot of talking, probably too much. That's part of the problem. Somewhere along the line we've come to think that giving the gift of our listening means we are saying we agree with what we are hearing. But the two are mutually exclusive. Now is time to listen.
We should assume a posture of humility. As people who believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful God, we should never confuse ourselves with that and act as if we, too have all the answers or bear some greater importance. The condescending schtick has done us no favors. We need to drop it.
We should intentionally seek out dialogue with those who think or believe differently than we do, if for no other reason than to put into practice the previous two "shoulds". Not to convince, cajole, or condemn; nor to see Nones as our untapped mission field. Just to have a conversation.
For those in the church, we should take a hard look at the way Jesus lived his life and strive anew to follow his lead. Jesus made a point of reaching out to people different from him, rather than perpetually remaining in his little enclave. Jesus listened. Jesus lived in humility and treated others with respect. Jesus embodied radical hospitality. Most of all, Jesus loved. We need to do better with all of those things - a lot better.
And we should view the changing dynamics of our culture as an opportunity for the church, not the death of it. It would be terribly presumptuous to think we could ever kill off something that God started anyway. But more than that, we have a tremendous opportunity - one God has granted us, I believe - to get our house back in order. To refocus on things Jesus would have us focus on - as the prophet Micah so eloquently put it, to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with God. Think of how different the church would look if we made a point of embodying just those three things.
Whether those in the now-largest religious segment in our society ever choose to give the church a chance is not really the point. The point - the hope - is that they and others might at least look at those of us in the church and realize that we are, in fact, reflecting the Jesus we claim to believe and follow. That in and of itself would be the mot important data point of them all.