Bent Conclusions

The Barna Group has produced a 2020 study of the American Church. It previously released a study entitled “State of the Church 2016”, in that year, which is not mentioned in its 2020 research. It has interesting research about church attendance, Christian belief, religious practice, and generosity of Christians vs. Secularists.

“Not only do most Americans identify as Christian, but a similar percentage (73%) also agree that religious faith is very important in their life. When a variable like church attendance is added to the mix, a majority becomes the minority. When a self-identified Christian attends a religious service at least once a month and says their faith is very important in their life, Barna considers that person a “practicing Christian.” After applying this triangulation of affiliation, self-identification and practice, the numbers drop to around one in three U.S. adults (31%) who fall under this classification.” “Barna researchers argue this represents a more accurate picture of Christian faith in America, one that reflects the reality of a secularizing nation.”

Post-Christian: To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet 60% or more of the following factors (nine or more). “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 80% or more of the factors (12 or more of these 15 criteria):

  1. Do not believe in God
  2. Identify as atheist or agnostic
  3. Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  4. Have not prayed to God (in the last year)
  5. Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  6. Disagree the Bible is accurate
  7. Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  8. Have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
  9. Agree that Jesus committed sins
  10. Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  11. Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  12. Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  13. Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  14. Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  15. Do not participate in a house church ( in the last year)

These can be grouped as follows:

  1. 2. 3. 5. 6. 9.

Personal practice

  1. 4. 10.

Church involvement

  1. 8. 12. 13. 14. 15.

The critical problem with the measure of “Post Christian” is it’s heavy reliance on church involvement. Six items of belief cleary identify a person that has abandoned christianity, but the measure requires nine. Therefore, it under measures in some respects, assuming unbelievers are involved in church and or practice faith. The greater error is the assumption that those who are not involved in church and are slack in religious practice have abandoned their faith and are “Post Christian”. This creates a gross distortion.

Finally, is faith accurately measured by church attendance? Is Religious practice best illustrated by church attendance? Is the secularization of America a product or measure of church attendance? From one who spent a lifetime attending church the clear answer is, “No.” One may ask, “If you don’t practice what you believe, do you really believe it?” Although, if one doesn’t believe anything, what standard of practice is expected from these? The problem with practice is that all humans, Christian and non-Christian are fallible and prone to error or inconsistency. Church attendence which accounts for one to three hours of time per week is not the critical standard of Christian Practice. The Church is imperfect and flawed in many respects, but it is not an accurate measure of faith. I submit that Christian martyrdom measured through human history is the best indication of secularization. Countless millions have died rather than renounce their faith, while I know of no secularists who have died for believing anything. Experts say that more Christians are martyred today than ever, with certain exceptions during Roman, Nazi and Communist revolts. Beware these secular studies that have no comprehension of the Spirit.

About Steve2525

Retired Journeyman
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