Statistics for the Changing Church. Barna finds four Mega-Themes in recent research: "...More than two out of three... noted that they are open to new ideas and easily adapt to change.... Most Americans, it seems, are willing to change as long as the pathway promises benefit and enjoyment, and generally avoids pain, conflict and sacrifice.
"...adults - especially those under 30 -- regularly strive to be connected to a substantial number of other people and yet possess a nagging sense of loneliness, isolation and restlessness. The constant involvement with social networking via the Internet, text messaging and phone calls via mobile devices... are manifestations of the investment in relationships and connections that are important but somehow not as fulfilling as desired....
"...people are reframing not just faith in general, but Christianity in particular. While slightly fewer adults - and many fewer teens - are identifying themselves as Christians these days, the image of the Christian faith has taken a beating.... The result is that those who choose to remain Christian - however they define it - are also reformulating the popular notion of what 'Christian' and the Christian life mean....
"Rigidity of belief - which includes the notion that there are absolute moral and spiritual truths - perceived by a large (and growing) share of young people to be evidence of closed-mindedness. The result is a nouveau form and structure for the Christian faith...." See New world, New ways, New gods
Older - Most of the links below are obsolete.
Re-Inventing the Church: [Re: Leaders on Leadership, edited by George Barna] "Mr. Barna wrote the chapter on 'The Vision Thing' himself. "In it, he explains that vision 'is a view of the kind of world God wants us to live within, a world He can create through us if all those He has called as leaders would lead according to the guidance provided by His Spirit.'
"Does that statement sound like an oxymoron? It is. Mr. Barna (president of the Barna Research Group, Ltd) seems to imply that God will recreate the world around us if today's 'change agents' would walk by the Spirit. But these leaders of "managed change" have been trained to follow a formula never given by Holy Spirit. Man may shoot himself in the foot, but God will not give us tools that clash with...
. "For example, Mr. Barna calls for "
evaluative tools prepared so you can assess how well you are doing along the way, fine-tuning your implementation efforts as you go along.... But God doesn't tell us to continually assess and evaluate our progress. He tells us to love Him, study His Word and follow His ways, then leave the result with Him. He will produce the fruit. He knows that if we continually measure our successes, we may shift our focus from His will and sufficiency to our own vision and achievements. That's why David was punished severely when he disobeyed God by measuring (assessing) the size of his victorious army. (2 Samuel 24)
"God's Word and Spirit must guide our daily steps, not our human standards and measurement for success. And His ways tend to clash with the world's vision of prosperity, numbers and success. But that matters little to mentors of "managed change" whose minds are tuned to effective methods rather than to their Maker."
George Barna -- the president of the Barna Research Group, Ltd. -- is an expert in his field, and his research offers us valuable information about this rapidly changing world. But he is also a leader in the Church Growth Movement and has written dozens of influential books, including The Power of Vision and Marketing the Church. The title of his book, The Habits of Highly Effective Churches, echoes the teachings of Steven Covey, a Mormon leadership guru to the world.
Only Half Of Protestant Pastors Have A Biblical Worldview: "Defining such a worldview as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize), the researcher produced data showing that there are significant variations....
"The Southern Baptists had the highest percentage of pastors with a biblical worldview (71%) while the Methodists were lowest among the seven segments evaluated (27%)....
"...the pastors least likely to have a biblical worldview are those who are seminary graduates (45%). In contrast, three out of five pastors who have not attended seminaries....
That's sad, but many seminaries left Biblical truth behind many years ago. No wonder many Christians search in vain for a Bible teaching church in their community. Daniel's prayer andStatistics for the Changing Church
"Our continuing research among teenagers and adolescents shows that the trend away from adopting biblical theology in favor of syncretic, culture-based theology is advancing at full gallop." "Americans draw theological beliefs from diverse points of view" (Barna Research Online) October 8, 2002.
Note from Berit: The above link is now obsolete, and I can't find any other source or reference for the quotes in the chart below. I'm sorry I can't verify the quotes.
Good News Bad News Very Bad News In the last four years, " there has been a rise in the proportion of adults who read the Bible..." "... Christians spend seven times as much time on entertainment as they do on spiritual activities." Although 2/3 of all teenagers say they know all the basic teachings... of the Christian faith, 2/3 reject the existence of Satan, 3/5 reject the existence of the Holy Spirit, and 1/2 believe that Jesus sinned.... "Among adults who are lay leaders in their church, more than nine out of ten prioritize their faith in their life goals." "Desiring to have a close, personal relationship with God ranks just sixth among the 21 life goals tested, trailing such desires as 'living a comfortable lifestyle.'" "A minority of born again adults (44%) and an even smaller proportion of born again teenagers (9%) are certain of the existence of absolute moral truth. "Half of all unchurched and non-Christian adults admit that they are seeking meaning and purpose in their life - providing a meaningful entry point for evangelizers." "In a representative nationwide survey among born again adults, none of the individuals interviewed said that the single, most important goal in their life is to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ." "Large proportions of the lay leaders in Christian churches hold a range of unbiblical religious views regarding the holiness of Christ, the reality of Satan, the existence of the Holy Spirit, the reality of the resurrection, and the means to salvation."
Morality Continues to Decay: Of the ten moral behaviors evaluated, a majority of Americans believed that each of three activities were 'morally acceptable.' Those included gambling (61%), co-habitation (60%), and sexual fantasies (59%). Nearly half of the adult population felt that two other behaviors were morally acceptable: having an abortion (45%) and having a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse (42%). About one-third of the population gave the stamp of approval to pornography (38%), profanity (36%), drunkenness (35%) and homosexual sex (30%). The activity that garnered the least support was using non-prescription drugs (17%). ...Less than one out of every ten evangelical Christians maintained that adultery, gay sex, pornography, profanity, drunkenness and abortion are morally acceptable."(Barna Research, November, 2003)
Americans Draw Theological Beliefs From Diverse Points of View
: "A new nationwide survey conducted by the Barna Research Group indicates that a large share of the people who attend Protestant or Catholic churches have adopted beliefs that conflict with the teachings of the Bible and their church. ....'Our continuing research among teenagers and adolescents shows that the trend away from adopting biblical theology in favor of syncretic, culture-based theology is advancing at full gallop.'"
Interview with George Barna, Part 2: "I think what makes more sense is that churches be organized around the particular vision that God has entrusted to the leaders, and that the church remain true to that vision.... Individuals, particularly younger generations, are saying, 'you know what, it's got to be genuine. It's got to be authentic. It has to reflect who I am, what I need, where I'm going.' So you are going to see all these other models: the house church; the cyber church; the boutique churches; faith communes; eschatological forums; marketplace affinity groups and so forth." These changes will be explained in our unfinished article: The Global Church
Barna continued, "I don't think that Christ died on the cross to create a stable institution. He died on the cross to help us understand that the world is a wicked place and we are wicked individuals at our bottom level. We have to be transformed and there is only one way of that happening, but that is not happening in America today."
Actually, Jesus died to cleanse and free us from that wickedness in ourselves -- not simply to understand it. This transformation -- a spiritual rebirth -- is happening in America and around the world today as His faithful disciples reach out with the true gospel to hearts prepared by the Holy Spirit to hear and accept His truth about His eternal love, peace and salvation. See What it means to be a Christian.