Sharing Faith Increasingly ‘Optional’ for Christians
George Barna Talks About New Research on American Pastors Network’s ‘Stand in the Gap Today’ Radio Show June 7
PHILADELPHIA—What is “optional” for Christians? Church attendance, going to Bible studies, tithing, giving to charity? As it turns out, many Christians say it’s becoming increasingly “optional” to share their faith in Christ with others.
This is the finding of a new survey from social science researcher George Barna, who is a friend of the American Pastors Network (APN, http://www.americanpastorsnetwork.net) and frequent guest on its popular daily radio program, “Stand in the Gap Today.”
“Our world has changed,” said APN President and “Stand in the Gap” radio and TV host Sam Rohrer. “Decades ago, sitting with our friends, family members, neighbors and fellow believers, often talking about our faith in God, was commonplace. Today, with how technology has drastically changed the way we interact, those conversations don’t happen nearly as much. How does this impact our faith—and the potential saving faith for others? Our good friend George Barna explores this question and gives insight on Christians feels about sharing our belief in and reliance upon Jesus.”
In 1993, Barna partnered with Lutheran Hour Ministries to research reasons why people did and did not engage in intentional outreach. Much has changed since that initial study, so 25 years later researchers asked follow-up questions to see if talk of faith has become labored in a culture that is more digital, secular and contested than ever. The results are contained in Barna’s new report Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age.
“When was the last time you had a conversation about God?” Barna wrote to introduce the follow-up study. “For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”
Barna’s research found that a growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the Good News as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual. Today, nearly three in 10 Christians (29 percent) say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility—a threefold increase. This jump could be the result of many factors, Barna reported, including poor ecclesiology (believing “the local church” is somehow separate from the people who are a part of it) or personal and cultural barriers to sharing faith.
An even more dramatic divergence occurred on this statement: “Every Christian has a responsibility to share their faith.” In 1993, nine out of 10 Christians (89 percent) agreed, but today, just two-thirds say the same (64 percent)—a 25-point drop.
Barna will be the featured guest again on “Stand in the Gap Today” on June 7, when he will discuss the newest research. “Stand in the Gap Today” is heard daily on 425 stations around the country, as well as live online from noon to 1 p.m. EST at American Pastors Network.com at the orange “Listen Live” button on the right-hand side of the webpage, or find a station here.
APN also recently debuted the new “Stand in the Gap” TV program, which aims to not only address today’s news from a biblical and constitutional perspective, but to also help pastors, church leaders and engaged members of congregations see how these matters impact the Christian church. The show airs weekly on WBPH-TV60, a station in the Philadelphia market that reaches a potential of 7 million viewers by cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, off-air antenna and online. Programs air at 3 p.m. ET Sundays and are rebroadcast the following Tuesday at 8 p.m. and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Check the WBPH listings for more information on how to watch. Learn more about the program here or view a promo for the show here.
View the media page for APN here, which also details information about “Stand in the Gap.” For more information on APN, visit www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net, its Facebook page or follow APN’s Twitter feed, @AmericanPastors. To form a state chapter of APN, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.