According to an Irish Times report
The report graded 12 areas which most affect people’s quality of life, and asked respondents to rank their priorities in each area...
Of the 119 priority options presented to respondents, eight of the top 10 items listed related to education and learning. The quality of the education system; literacy levels; universities and third-level education; and early childhood education topped the priority rankings in that order....
Perhaps the most surprising finding was the ranking of religion and spirituality, which respondents placed last of all 119 priority options, despite the country’s once strong Catholic identity.
Ireland achieved an overall grade of C+ when people’s satisfaction ratings with life were collated. A comparable study for people living in Toronto also scored a C+, with Vancouver scoring B.
The area that people were most satisfied with was arts and culture, rating this B+, with respondents citing the welter of concerts and festivals on offer each year and access to heritage sites.
Religion and Spirituality as last on the list ... That is worrying, it is disappointing but is it to be expected? Perhaps, but it has also got to be a wake up call for the church (in all its forms and denominations) to be engaging with the culture around. To speak directly to those who are critical of faith / church / religion and engage in the public square.
After all - the tiredness, the despair, the disengagement which many feel with organised church is probably the result of our collective failure as church to communicate what we should be communicating ... good news ... purpose ... life giving messages... relationship.
What can be done? - surely the church needs to waken up ... at local, national and international level - we need to figure out what the needs of our local community are, to communicate effectively to anyone who will give us a hearing ... to do that we need to build relationships, to earn respect, to do the things which we do well ... excellently ... we need to be proactive in that engagement ... we might need to do different things as clearly what we are doing generally speaking is not working in Ireland!
Surely our faith in God should be high up those things which we see as important? ... How do we do that? Yes its the million dollar question! but we do need to do something if not the Irish Church at large is in a much worse state than we thought.
I do think we as church at large needs to communicate what we are about, engage with community and pray, pray hard for our outreach, our mission, our vision as Christians and perhaps even dare to pray for the Holy Spirit to revive these dry bones.
All comments welcome.