Christians Are Re-Inventing Themselves & Not In a Good Way

I came across an interesting article at The Christian Post that expounds on a recent study conducted by The Barna Group. The study reveals that while fewer Americans identify themselves with Christianity, those who remain Christian are redefining what “Christian” means. Specifically, younger generations are not bound by traditional parameters of the Christian faith but instead are embracing values that are not necessarily based on biblical foundations.

Here are some highlights from the article:

  • Young Americans have adopted values such as goodness, kindness and tolerance, but they remain skeptical of the Bible, church traditions, and rules or behaviors based upon religious teaching.
  • Traditional activity such as integrating discipline and regimen in personal faith development is becoming less popular.
  • Repeating the same weekly routines in religious events, such as attending church weekly, is increasingly deemed anachronistic, stifling and irrelevant.
  • Rigidity of belief, including the notion that there are absolute moral and spiritual truths, is perceived by many young people as evidence of closed-mindedness.

David Kinnaman, president of The Barna Group, stated that most Americans do not have strong and clear beliefs largely because they do not possess a coherent biblical world view. “They lack a consistent and holistic understanding of their faith,” he said.

So what is replacing traditional Christian values and creed?

  • Pursuing spiritual diversity in conversations and relationships.
  • Embracing racial diversity and tolerance.
  • Valuing interpersonal connections above spiritual education.
  • Blending all forms of the arts and novel forms of instruction into religious events.
  • Accepting divergent forms of spiritual community.

While these are all noble deeds, they are not Gospel. In fact, it sounds very much like the character of the Church of Laodicea spoken of in the Book of Revelation.

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: {15} ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. {16} ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. {17} ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, {18} I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. {19} ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. {20} ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. {21} ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. {22} ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” (Rev 3:14-22 NASB)

Are the results of this study shocking? Hardly so. We live in a day and age where fewer preachers teach The Bible but rather deal with topics that are more relative to people’s daily lives (e.g. the pursuit of happiness, time management, how to raise children, how to be wealthy, etc.). Paul described our age in 2 Timothy 4:3 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” What is ironic about this “straying from the Word of God” is that you can preach the Bible and still teach any life lesson. However, most sermons today are simply sprinkled with Scripture rather than having their very foundation in Scripture.

Americans also spend very little time in God’s Word. There just isn’t enough time with all of the work, activities, television, movies and other forms of entertainment we occupy ourselves with. How many American Christians spend time daily reading God’s Word? I would venture to say a very small percentage. Much more time is spent watching television, movies and listening to secular news than diving into God’s Word. Is it any wonder why American Christians have such a worldly view of Christianity? In the Book of Psalms, David worte, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against Thee.” (Psa 119:11 NASB). Reminds me of the saying, “You are what you eat.” If all our diet consists of is fast food, we are not going to be very healthy people. The same is true of Christians. If the diet primarily consists of what the world puts out instead of God’s Word, we are not going to be very healthy spiritually.

Finally, how many American Christians spend time developing their relationship with God in prayer and communion (fellowship)? I would venture to say that the vast majority of Christians do not set aside time to pray on a regular basis. They may pray over their food; they may pray when in trouble; they may even pray when purchasing that multi-million dollar lottery ticket. But how often do American Christians set aside time to talk (and listen) to God without having any other distractions? Once a week? A couple times a month? When driving to work? Never? And then think about this – would a marriage last with that little time and investment given to it?” Certainly not!

The Christian Post article goes on to state that the image of the Christian faith has also taken a beating. According to the Barna Group study, media criticism, “unchristian” behavior by church people, bad personal experiences with churches, ineffective Christian leadership amid social crises and the like have given rise to this “battered” image. In fact, young Americans outside Christianity have more negative perceptions than positive of the Christian faith. A majority say that Christianity is judgmental, anti-homosexual, hypocritical, old-fashioned and too involved in politics.

Finally, I leave with with a statement from George Barna himself who is chairman of The Barna Group as well as a born-again Christian.

“Our society is running the risk of becoming so independent and self-absorbed that we will abandon our responsibility to society and to making the world a better place. 2008 will be an important year as America chooses future political leaders, pursues new spiritual forms, and shapes critical social policies. The choices will greatly influence the character of America for years to come. Hopefully, Americans will choose to apply their levels of personal influence in ways that generate social good, not just personal security and satisfaction. Identifying what each of us can do to avoid radical self-interest in favor of a more compassionate and collaborative society should find a place on everyone’s list of New Year’s resolutions.”

Does the direction that Christianity is taking scare you? If it doesn’t, then you are already lukewarm and will most likely flow right along with the trend. If it does scare you then I would encourage you to make a difference. How? You can start by devoting more time to the things that are profitable for eternity – namely, building our faith and relationship with God. The fundamental ways of accomplishing this is to read and study God’s Word regularly (daily), set aside daily time for prayer and communion with God, be active in not only attending church but participating in ministry as well, and allow God’s Word (The Bible) to be the foundation of all that you believe.

Author: David Wallace

David Wallace is a search & social media marketer who lives in Anthem Arizona with his lovely wife. Interests & hobbies include all things Disney, roller coasters, musicianship and Christianity. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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  1. Very interesting. I’m adding in RSS Reader

  2. I noticed as I read the first paragraph of the article the following quote from the Barna Group. “Younger generations are not bound by traditional parameters of the Christian faith but instead are embracing values that are not necessarily based on biblical foundations”. I believe the reason that our youth have turned this direction is because Mom and Dad’s Church / Fellowship / Bible Study / Group aren’t getting it done for them The Church as a whole finds it self in want, being weighed in the balance and recognizing we have all like sheep gone astray. The Barna Group is simply stating the obvious.

    Let’s look at the local church we attend every Sunday. Are you telling me it’s not lukewarm, no way brother our church is on fire. We burn so bright we don’t slip or even allow our eyes go from side to side. Come on, everyone of us needs an awakening young and old. I’m sorry if you’re offended by this response then take off the blinders, or dig your head out of the sand. Listen I’m not slinging mud, I’m the pack leader of hypocrites. I’ve done so much in my day and yet I’ve done nothing. I am 46 and I sit here as a relic a statue of past great deeds, a giant bag of dust for our youth to look at and say “Wow he once did something great”.

    Our Churches have become museums for great saints that once did something. Don’t get me wrong I haven’t quit believing and I haven’t quit working with young people I still hang out with students ages 16-24 and I can give first hand account that a spark has been kindled and it is slowly stirring within the hearts of these kids. Yes I am talking about those same diverse, tolerant, embracing, accepting kids. You know those kids that wear their hair 3 different colors and have piercing in every orifice; he is the same kid who listens to music so loud that it sounds like a mix of cats and dogs fighting. Times have changed and all these kids want is the reality of “a living Savior. They want to see the Church Alive; by Faith they want the miracles that we only speak of anymore.

    After reading the article and the author’s comments I was actually angry. My anger stems from self reflection and my own apathy. It’s time some of us older “seasoned” Christians first repent, and then take this “younger generation” by the hand and walk our talk. To anyone who questions our youth of today, simply hang out with them for a month or two, they are more vibrant and full of life then we ever were. Like a roman candle they simply need to be pointed in the right direction. We have spent far too long giving these kids a lobotomy when what they needed the whole time was heart surgery. Keep up the great work Dave, talk to you later.

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