The Barna Group has done a new study and published what it says are the six biggest trends in American churches today:
- The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.
- Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
- Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
- Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
- The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
- The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.
At first glance these results might seem pessimistic. Barna’s polls are often thought of casting a long shadow over the contemporary church culture. To dismiss it as negative or simply to cry in our soup are wrong responses. This information, like so many seemingly dire Old Testament prophecies, is only bad if we choose to ignore it. Like any medicine, it may be the best thing for us if we can just get past the taste of it. Due to the importance of this subject I’ll be addressing each item in its own post. Today we address Item 1:
Item 1: The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate. Like so many other things our culture, there’s an effort underway to dumb down the gospel along with most biblical teaching to reach the masses with the simplest and most appealing messages possible. Dumb people are easier to control. The problem is that people are not really dumb. The church should be a resource for truth, wisdom, and discipleship. Sunday morning services so often come down to some moral lecture, some entertainment, some emotional stir, and some exchange of money for guilt. People naturally want to alleviate their guilt and get a nice emotional boost for their weekly contribution, assuming they even make that much of a commitment. To garner more involvement many churches act like marketing agencies instead of houses of worship and truth. Is it any wonder the church as a whole is less theologically literate? What can we do? Become the disciples we are called to be and encourage genuine spiritual growth. Quit pandering and start providing meat at the spiritual table.
Hat tip to Marc Cortez for turning me on to this info and inspiring this series of posts…