The Need for Community is Real

Organized religion has been declining in popularity, leading to a search for community and spirituality through alternative means such as manifesting, astrology, and shared fitness routines. This and other societal changes are at least in part causing a rise in loneliness and mental health struggles, as people are seeking connection and support in an increasingly complex world.

This trend originates from the report:

FORERUNNER - The Dinner Party ‘27

With the fading influence of organized religion, consumers are exploring support in other forms of spirituality and community. Engagement in religion has seen a precipitous decline for the vast majority of people. In 2020, church memberships dipped to a record low of 47%, and only 30% of our respondents consider religion and spirituality to play an important role in their lives.

Of this 30%, people are more inclined to describe themselves as “spiritual” rather than “religious.” Additionally, there is limited difference in the importance of spirituality and organized religion across age groups, which suggests not just a groundswell of change across younger cohorts but also diminishing affinity across older generations too. The Saver, Wellbody, and Pioneer — largely mid-aged archetypes spanning a broad range of life experiences — are the archetypes that find the most importance in spirituality.

The Maverick — a Gen Z and millennial dominant archetype that is preoccupied with finding their footing — is the least focused on spirituality, next to stretched-thin family-oriented Juggler. The fading influence of organized religion, both as a spiritual practice and as a community stronghold, is having a unique impact on cultural values and behaviors. Practices like manifesting, astrology, and tarot readings have seen a boom2 in popularity, as people aim to fill the void for community and belief that was once centralized around the church.

Alongside this, consumers increasingly seem to seek belonging through shared fitness routines (SoulCycle, Peloton), cult brands, music festivals, and other social gatherings around cultural experiences. While organized religion may be declining, the desire for community and belonging is not. Research from the American Time Use Survey in 2021 showed that Americans over 15 years old are spending significantly more time alone than they were before — a trend that started before the pandemic.

This is true for those across all age groups, ethnicities, income levels and geographies. The parallel rise of loneliness and mental health struggles is not coincidental. The church was not just a powerful gathering place for belief, it was a foundation for meeting new values-aligned friends or companions, support with childcare, and opportunities for charity.

In what new ways can people find a positive sense of community and shared values as organized religion loses popularity? In an ever more complex and demanding world, the need for connection and support seems essential to society’s well-being..