Explore
Follow Us

Top 12 trends in American Christianity

If you’re a Jesus-follower who is leading others, you need to study and consider the alarming implications of Barna’s list of 12 trends in the Christian movement. For example, just 15% of church attenders would rank their relationship with God as their top priority. In contrast, 75% of young peo…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

If you’re a Jesus-follower who is leading others, you need to study and consider the alarming implications of Barna’s list of 12 trends in the Christian movement. For example, just 15% of church attenders would rank their relationship
with God as their top priority. In contrast, 75% of young people
reported that they’d engaged in witchcraft or psychic activity. Is this alarming? Should it be? You be the judge. Here are the highlights:

Barna selected the following dozen outcomes as the most significant findings of 2006.

  • Although large majorities of the public claim to be
    “deeply spiritual” and say that their religious faith is “very
    important” in their life, only 15% of those who regularly attend a
    Christian church ranked their relationship with God as the top priority
    in their life.

  • Three out of every four teenagers have engaged in at
    least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity.

  • The notion of personal holiness has slipped out of the
    consciousness of the vast majority of Christians.

  • The growing movement of Christian Revolutionaries in
    the U.S. distinguished themselves from an already-select group of
    people – born again Christians – through their deeds, beliefs and
    self-views.

  • Involvement in a house church is rapidly growing,
    although the transition is occurring with some trepidation: four out of
    every five house church participants maintain some connection to a
    conventional church as well.

  • Evaluating spiritual maturity remains an elusive
    process for clergy as well as individuals. Across the nation, the only
    measure of spiritual health used by at least half of all pastors was
    the extent of volunteer activity or ministry involvement. 

  • Most Americans have a period of time during their teen
    years when they are actively engaged in a church youth group. However,
    …most of them had
    disengaged from organized religion during their twenties.

  • A comparison of people’s faith before and after the
    September 11 terrorist attack showed that five years after the
    momentous day, none of the 19 faith measures studied had undergone
    statistically significant change.

  • Seven out of ten parents claim they are effective at
    developing the spiritual maturity of their children, but the Barna
    survey among 8-to-12-year-olds discovered that only one-third of them
    say a church has made “a positive difference” in their life; one-third
    contend that prayer is very important in their life; most of them would
    rather be popular than to do what is morally right.

  • Relatively few people – just one out of every six –
    believe that spiritual maturity is meant to be developed within the
    context of a local church or within the context of a community of
    faith.

  • Five of the highest-profile Christian leaders – Rick
    Warren, Joel Osteen, James Dobson, Tim LaHaye and T.D. Jakes – were
    unknown to a majority of the population. Most of those leaders were
    also unknown to most born again Christians.

  • The faith contours of America continue to shift
    substantially over the course of time. The proportion of adults who are
    born again has risen dramatically in the past quarter century, from 31%
    to 45%. During the past two decades, every spiritual behavior has
    fluctuated significantly, with recent upsurge in Bible reading, church
    attendance, and small group involvement.
  • I don’t know what your response is. I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to batten down the hatches. I’m asking God for a remnant. I’m praying, “Lord, raise up a generation that is desperate for you.”

    Comments (7)

    • I read the complete report and noticed this: “Most Americans have a period of time during their teen years when they are actively engaged in a church youth group. However, Barna’s tracking of young people showed that most of them had disengaged from organized religion during their twenties.”
      This is what I’ve noticing for five years since the kids i worked with in youth group went off to college or to work. In fact, they left the group (and apparently the church forever) when they got their driver’s licenses.
      I wrote Mike Yaconelli of Youth Specialties about this after his article:
      http://www.youthspecialties.com/articles/Yaconelli/failure.php
      It’s the one you commented on in another of your posts.
      And he wrote the “apology article” that quoted my letter. And we were talking about how to rethink youth groups the very week he died. Now there’s no one interested in rethinking things. It’s really a shame. But of course, the very nature of reaching large groups runs counter to Jesus’ approach.

    • hey pops – you’re doing great! it’s happening, I’m living it with 50 others…thanks for all you’ve done and continue to dream!

    • I think the most significant social trend in American history is the changing definition of gender and gender identity. The youth/young adults of America (under 30) are becoming increasingly more tolerant and accepting of a more ambiguous transgender doctrine than the traditional Judeo-Christian definition of Male or Female; Masculine or Feminine. For example, the transgender doctrine (the ambiguous continuum of gender identity) is now the “normative” teaching in US public schools.

      The redefinition of gender in American culture and all it’s potential downstream reverberations will be the single most dramatic impact on American Christianity in our lifetime.

      Practically speaking, the majority of youth/young adults have already accepted the notion of a third gender category (“gay or transgender”) deserving of equal rights and equal protection identical to those of ethnicity and race. Over time, the “old” two gender perspective of Judeo-Christian values will become more and more obsolete.

    • Thus saith the Lord “Because America has forsaken me the fountain of many waters and has hewn unto themselves broken cisterns which can hold no water, they have bitten the Hand that has fed them from their birth; Therefore I will withdraw my care. My desire was that they be like a mighty tree under which the nations can resort.But they have not make good the commitments of their fathers. They teach their children their philosophy of rebellion. But I will yet cause a revival that my people will rejoice in my mercy. When I shake America they will cry out ‘I return you, for you are my Guide from my youth. Shalom”

    • This is brilliant news.

      The sooner people get past primitive superstitions and start thinking for themselves the better.

      There is no excuse for just turning off your brain and wallowing in fairy stories.

    Comments are closed.

    Subscribe to Radical Living:

    Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

    Seth Barnes

    I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



    © Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy