I don’t think it will be surprising to any of you that I am an NPR junkie. I listen to it in the morning when getting ready for the day and getting the girls off to school. I listen to it in the evening while making dinner. And I enjoy catching different shows in the middle of the day on my day off.

I was caught on Monday morning hearing a piece during the morning news on the rise of the Nones. (The newscaster was careful to spell out nones, given this was a religious news story.) Back in October 2012, the Pew Research Center released a study which noted that about one-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation. Most of these do not consider themselves to be atheist (actively holding there is no divine presence period) or agnostic (actively holding that there is some sort of divine presence). Most in this 20 percent self-identify as being spiritual (in some way, shape, form, or practice) but not having an affiliation to a religious tradition. For young adults in this study, aged 18 – 29, 32 percent report no religious affiliation, and 25 percent of those in their thirties report no religious affiliation. Those percentages have increased over the past 5 years.

Does this make you itchy? Concerned? Appalled?

Not me. I see these sorts of statistics and reports as a real opportunity.

Those who self-report as nones and as SBNR – Spiritual But Not Religious – have legitimate concerns for not being formally affiliated with a religious community. For some, they chose to not join because of the rules and dogma of various religious traditions – those laws that say who is in (in heaven, in salvation, in right relationship with God) and who is out (what constitutes a sinner, for example). Some say they have left the faith traditions in which they were raised because of those thou shalt nots. Some see hypocrisy between what is said by leaders in a faith tradition and how they live their lives.  For others, it is what self-identified religious people have said to them in times of crisis and grief – such as “God needed your son and that’s why he died.” For the record, never, ever say that to someone. Just don’t.

So the opportunity here is that you and I have a chance to engage in real, honest, and authentic conversation about our own beliefs and understanding of faith with those who are spiritually searching. Those who are in the nones category aren’t just out there – they are here at Christ Church, worshiping with us, and exploring this particular segment of Christianity. They are your neighbors, friends, kids’ friends, and co-workers.

Here’s what I think is critical to engaging in this conversation. You have to think about your beliefs. What is it that you believe about God? About how God acts in the world? About why Jesus was incarnated, was born, lived a human life, and died on the Cross? About how the Holy Spirit works today in the world, in the universal church, and in a particular congregation? How does God impact your life today, right now? How and why do you pray? What does the Bible have to do with your life today, right now? Why do bad things happen to people (good and bad) in a world created by and sustained by a good God? Why are you affiliated with this particular congregation of Christ Church and with the Episcopal Church? What draws you here and keeps you coming?

Let me be clear – I don’t think that you must have all the answers or be 100% certain about them. That probably would not be authentic. But I do think that you need to think about these questions and more. Take some time to be quiet with God, or have coffee with Jesus, or to sojourn with the Holy Spirit and think and listen and pray. And then reach out to share the Love of God with someone in listening and in speaking.