Transforming the ChurchFriday, April 13, 2012
I have come to believe that the most urgent business of the Church is not the evangelization of the lost, as important as that is, but the re-evangelization of the saved. Why so? For over a decade, George Barna has been studying the beliefs and behaviors of Christians; his findings are not encouraging.
In his 2001 book Growing True Disciples, Barna reported, “To the naked eye, the thoughts and deeds (and even many of the religious beliefs) of Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of nonbelievers.” Six years later, he similarly reported, “Born again Christians are statistically indistinguishable from non-born again adults on most of the behaviors studied.” (The studied behaviors included lying, substance abuse, and extramarital sex.)
The pollster’s latest research suggests some underlying causes.
Based on surveys taken from 2005 to 2010, Barna found that less than 20 percent of Christians in America are committed to spiritual formation. What’s more, says Barna, “less than one out of ten have talked about their faith with a non-Christian, fasted for religious purposes, and had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week.”
He goes on to report that among self-identified Christians, less than 3 percent “have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted to His will for their life, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people.”
Just think: Eighty percent of Americans profess to be Christians, yet only between 3 to 20 percent (likely closer to the lower end of that range) could be called disciples -- that is, believers who have dedicated their lives to become more like Jesus by learning to do the things He commanded us to do. Is it any wonder that Christians are succumbing to the cultural influences of a secularized society and that the Church is losing its social and moral capital?
But imagine if the discipled population was doubled, tripled, or quadrupled over the next decade. What might happen if the majority of professed Christians were actually practicing Christians -- believers whose works and words align with the teachings of Jesus? I suspect that we would see a kingdom movement not experienced since the time of the early Church.
It’s not working
I am not alone in recognizing the pressing need of re-reaching the “saved.” Continue reading here.
Continue reading here.