Barna Study – Less Spiritual and More Pragmatic

Part 3 of 6…

The Barna Group has done a new study and published what it says are the six biggest trends in American churches today:

  1. The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.
  2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
  3. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
  4. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
  5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
  6. 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 3:

Item 3: Growing numbers of people are becoming less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life. This item follows closely in the footsteps of Item 1. We live in a society that seeks rationality. Intellect is valued more than mysticism. The supernatural is dismissed as the unusual or worse, the unreal. The church retains the appearance of godliness, but lacks power. People don’t want to confront sin and be changed into servants of the Most High God. People want to be served, to have their sin ignored, and to be comfortable in their prosperity. Spiritual truth requires of us what we least want to surrender. Until the truth is preached from the pulpit and taught in the Sunday School classes and pursued in the rest of our group and personal religious activities we will miss this mark.

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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10 Responses to Barna Study – Less Spiritual and More Pragmatic

  1. Todd Beal says:

    Essentially, today’s church wants all the benefits of a close relationship with God but we are not willing to submit ourselves to God. So, we play church, emulate Christianity, and in the process sell others and ourselves a pleasant but deadly lie; “We can do things our way and still make it to heaven”.

  2. Lance Ponder says:

    Yes, Todd. That’s an excellent way of saying it. And you’re right, it is a dangerous and foolish thing to tempt God with the cloak of godliness covering our empty graves.

  3. Bernie says:

    On this one, I would not simply blame the people. What Barna concludes about people is indeed correct and why many simply see Scripture as a book of principles. If you get the principles, then you can live a rich fool life … even apart from God. And yet, Jesus said ‘Apart from Me you can do nothing.’ Many believe a life driven by Biblical principles can overcome their sin apart from Christ Jesus … it doesn’t work that way. Now that we have picked on the people, let’s pick at the church institution a bit. If you were to truly assess and list every practice of your local church institution, and then proceed to take that list and test each practice against Scripture I dare to say you would say that pragmatism has played a very large role in shaping what we see as church today. Just a thought … Bernie

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Sorry if it sounds like I’m only picking on the congregation. By “people” I meant everyone including the pulpit and the choir. 😉 Apart from Christ we are all whitewashed tombs, so to speaks. We agree completely on this.

  4. Bernie says:

    Oops … I see a freudian slip … it should have said then you can live a rich full life …

  5. Robert says:

    We live in a society that seeks rationality. Intellect is valued more than mysticism. The supernatural is dismissed as the unusual or worse, the unreal.

    You say it like this is a bad thing.

  6. Pingback: Barna Study – Community Action | divinelogos

  7. Pingback: Barna Study – Tolerance | divinelogos

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