Survey expert George Barna reviewed more than a dozen national surveys related
to matters of faith conducted by the Barna Research Group during 2000 and
devised three lists of faith-related survey results – particularly noteworthy
insights, the most encouraging faith-related results, and the most discouraging
Among the 12 most noteworthy results:
– 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.
– Among born-again Christian adults, only 8% tithe their income to their
church; 16% give no donations to their church throughout the year.
– Asian-Americans are now more likely than Hispanics to be born-again (27% vs.
– Fewer than one-third of all teenagers are likely to attend a Christian church
once they are living independent of their parents.
– Unchurched people are typically less relational than are churched people,
thereby challenging the wisdom of reliance on personal relationships as the key
evangelistic outreach tactic.
– Most Christians’ votes were influenced more by their economic self-interest
than by their spiritual and moral values.
– Only a minority of born-again teenagers (44%) claim that they are
“absolutely committed to the Christian faith.”
Barna said, “These results point out some of the areas in which the Church
needs to devote greater attention. Among the major challenges to churches are
the 4 Cs: commitment, comprehension, caring and communication.” Barna also
cited the results that he found especially encouraging, which included:
– Since 1996 there has been a rise in the proportion of adults who read the
Bible during a typical week, from 34% to 40% in 2000.
– Three-fourths of all adults donated money to a church last year.
– 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
– The percentage of adults who earn more than $60,000 annually and have
accepted Christ as their Savior has nearly doubled since 1991, from 13% to 25%.
– In the past nine years, the percentage of Catholic adults who believes in
salvation by grace alone and has accepted Jesus as their savior has grown from
16% to 24%. Denominationally, Catholics are the second-largest group of born-again Christians, trailing only Baptists.
Among Barna’s most discouraging results:
– Born-again adults are more likely to experience a divorce than are non born-again adults (27% vs. 24%).
– Although women are more active in church life than are men, their levels of
participation in many aspects of church life – from worship attendance to
volunteering – are significantly declining.
– Born-again Christians spend seven times as much time on entertainment as they
do on spiritual activities.
– Although two-thirds of all teenagers say they know all the basic teachings
and principles of the Christian faith, two-thirds of them reject the existence
of Satan, three-fifths reject the existence of the Holy Spirit, and half
believe that Jesus sinned during His lifetime.
– 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.
Barna suggested that America is now entering a period that historians will
someday regard as the beginning of the era of moral anarchy. The difficulties
facing the Church are symptomatic of such an era. “The next ten years will
be crucial toward determining the capacity of the American Church to be a
serious influence on the culture. Churches have tremendous opportunities to
impact millions of people’s lives, and the resources to get the job done are
“At issue is whether churches will permit leaders to provide strategic
direction and to facilitate meaningful changes in ministry methods.
Unprecedented change in ministry methods and in people’s commitment to being
lay ministers are required if the Church is to emerge as a player. Hopefully, a
year from now, we will struggle to find points of discouragement related to America’s
All of the data mentioned in this report are drawn from nationwide surveys of
adults, teenagers or pastors conducted during 2000. The sample sizes of those
studies range from 600 to 1020 respondents.
(from Barna Research Online, December
12, 2000; www.barna.org)
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