Barna: Churches Have 'Lost
Their Spiritual Passion'
By Eric Tiansay
Charisma News Service
CBN.com - Despite having
more born-again Christians today than 10 years ago, America is spiritually
stagnant. A new study on the state of Christianity in the nation
has revealed that Americans remain interested in faith and consider
themselves to be religious people -- but it concludes that believers
are seemingly mired in spiritual complacency.
The verdict was delivered in the State of the Church report by
the Barna Research Group (BRG), a California-based Christian organization
that annually conducts a nationwide study of the country's faith
practices and perspectives.
Not everything is gloomy. The study of 1,005 Protestants and
Catholics found that the percentage of adult born-again Christians
increased from 35 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2001. Since
1995, there has been a five-point increase in the percentage of
adults who say they are "absolutely committed" to the Christian
But the report found a decline in other significant faith areas.
Regular Bible reading dropped over the last decade from 45 percent
to 37 percent. Volunteering at church declined from 27 percent
to 20 percent over the same period. Church attendance has slipped
from 49 percent to 42 percent.
The study also revealed other disturbing findings. Four out of
10 Christians do not attend church or read the Bible in a typical
week, while seven out of 10 are not involved in a small group
that meets for spiritual purposes. The report also confirmed that
there are more than 10 million Christians who are unchurched.
BRG's president said the findings point to America's need for
a spiritual shake-up. According to George Barna, "in a typical
week, 41 percent of the adults attending Christian churches are
not born again. Although the figures are substantially higher
in Catholic churches, more than one-third of the Protestant churchgoers
are not born again." He added: "Most of those people have been
attending Christian churches for years and years, without really
understanding the foundations of the Christian faith and its personal
Reiterating comments based on previous BRG findings, Barna said
that "America certainly did not experience the spiritual revival
that many Christians hoped would emerge as the new millennium
He added: "There are magnificent exceptions throughout the country,
but overall, Christian ministry is stuck in a deep rut...Like
the churches of Laodicea and Sardis, described in the Bible as
distasteful to God because of their complacency and spiritual
deadness, too many Christians and churches in America have traded
in spiritual passion for empty rituals, clever methods and mindless
"The challenge to today's church is not methodological. It is
a challenge to resuscitate the spiritual passion and fervor of
the nation's Christians."
Barna's views contradict those of Christian Broadcasting Network
founder Pat Robertson, who told the Virginia Press Association
last week that a religious revival was under way in America. He
said the revival was significantly impacting America's politics
because religious people were working together with politicians
to make the country a better place. The involvement is "a very
healthy trend," he said.
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