There are signs everywhere…that American culture is becoming less Christian. When I study the research and read the reports, I’m immediately an analyst myself, speculating how these trends are already impacting what we do. If you are a ministry practitioner, volunteer or staff, you may already be having the same thoughts. If you’re not there yet, it’s time to begin paying attention.
This week the Barna organization released findings that while “seven out of 10 adults describe themselves as ‘Christian’ and more than six out of 10 Americans say they are ‘deeply spiritual,’” America is becoming increasingly post-Christian.
Analyzing 42,855 interviews conducted in recent years, the research explores the emerging post–Christian landscape of the nation by examining 15 different measures of non-religiosity. To qualify as post-Christian, “individuals met nine or more out of 15 criteria. Highly post-Christian individuals met 12 or more of these 15 criteria.” The measures they selected were:
- do not believe in God
- identify as atheist or agnostic
- disagree that faith is important in their lives
- have not prayed to God (in the last year)
- have never made a commitment to Jesus
- disagree the Bible is accurate
- have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
- have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
- agree that Jesus committed sins
- do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
- have not read the Bible (in the last week)
- have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
- have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
- have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
- do not participate in a house church (in the last year)
Here are the questions I’m asking when I see the research:
- When we see the list of factors, are we seeing the faces of family, neighbors, friends, and co-workers?
- Does our communication (website, messages, bulletin, sermon notes, etc.) recognize that 40% of our community might be operating from a post-Christian mindset?
- Am we taking their worldview into consideration when we choose or create the small group studies that we’ll use to launch new groups in the community?
By the way, based on the same analysis, Barna identified the “most post-Christian cities in America.” How did your city do? Are you on the list? What are you doing to tailor your ministry to function in a post-Christian culture?