Recently I read a fascinating article on Politico Magazine titled “The Media Bubble is Real — And Worse Than You Think,” which tried to answer the question of how the media in general got the 2016 presidential election so wrong. How come no one could see the wave coming that swept Donald Trump into office? The article lists two primary reasons: over 90% of journalists self-identify as Democrats, which is a symptom of a more underlying issue. The vast majority of journalists live in small clusters in the US, in counties that voted the most heavily Democratic. With the rise of the internet and the downfall of print journalism and local newspapers, modern journalism has clustered onto the coasts of America, both of which lean heavily democratic. So when journalists saw an easy win for Clinton, it’s because they lived in counties and cities that all planned to vote Democratic. Their sin was not getting out of their bubble long enough to see what the rest of the country was experiencing.
Fascinating in and of itself as a political article, I found immediate religious application to it as well, hence the title of this post. I would very much argue that there is such a thing as a religious bubble or a church bubble, and it’s a legitimate factor why church attendance and church involvement are on a slow and steady decline throughout the country.I grew up in church and I’m thankful for that tradition, but in some ways it puts be at a disadvantage. I’m the most comfortable in church because it’s all I’ve ever known. I’m the most comfortable hanging around church people talking church talk. I cognitively know there is another world out there, a world where people sleep in on Sundays or they’re still sleeping off Saturday night or they’ve got better things to do than go to church, but that’s a world I struggle to identify with. I’ve been born and raised and nurtured inside a church bubble, and unless I’m intentional to venture outside and build relationships with those far from God, my innate tendency will be to hang around people that look, act and talk like me.
That’s why so many churches can become so ineffective at reaching the modern world. They haven’t ventured outside their bubble long enough to even see what the modern world looks like. We’ve left the marketplace and retreated behind the walls of our religious forts. And the results speak for themselves: churches are dying at a record pace, being starved out by a lack of new converts. The church bubble is real, and it’s worse than you think.