What does a modern faith based organization look like? The quest begins.

What does a modern faith based organization look like? What will the next generations of faith based organizations look like? (and where do we see them evolving… informally)

I am doing some research on informal organizations that pop up to serve a very real need for community/faith based organizations for people who have trouble finding a place for themselves in more traditional faith based spaces. (PEW reported in 2015 that “millennial” (those born between 1981-1996) were most likely to report their religious affiliation as “none.”) It has led to a series of very interesting and complicated case studies… more on that later.

Where do you go when you are mourning but not part of a church or temple? Are there still spaces where kindness and service to others is part of the common understanding that isn’t tied to religious tradition? Does it need to be? Where do you go if you want to have debates about ethics with a proposed ethical framework that isn’t immediately torn down so you can explore? What if you are struggling with your past decisions and want to heal, and have been rejected from a particular community for not fitting their mold? I’ve seen a lot of these cases unfold in personal essays and honest conversations with friends.

In the first part of this investigation, I want to share some of the honest conversations I’ve had and seen about faith in the last year. I am interested in what the next generations of faith based organizations look like. Especially as Pope Francis does some very cool things within the Catholic Church that make me wonder if I will find my way back into some of the churches I went to when I was a child.

Dalia’s talk opened my mind to a more honest conversation about faith. Where I needed to admit, I am often unable to answer questions about my “faith.”

I wrote this comment on Dalia's talk when it went up this winter.
I wrote this comment on Dalia’s talk when it went up this winter. It was the most up-voted comment on the page, which also tells me that I am not alone in my experience/struggle with faith.

Chelsea’s talk pushed me to look at my own biases and reasons for being afraid of aspects of organized religion. She encouraged me to look at what real activism looks like… and what it means to be part of a community.

I am just starting to investigate, but it’s been really interesting to see what groups have been organizing informally, often around similar language about ethics and community to the lessons I learned in church as a child. Sometimes there is a clear separation from the symbols and traditions of the church… but sometimes the separation is less clear. I am also interested in those who join or return to more traditional organizations in their 20s. This is the beginning of my research in this space.