The Christian research firm The Barna Group has identified six overarching themes from its 2010 work, and many of them highlight the hard work needed by the church and individual Christians to maintain widespread relevance in postmodern American society.
Topping the list is the fact that many people, Christian and secular, are theologically illiterate. For instance, although most Americans recognize Easter as a religious holiday, a minority specifically connect it to Jesus’ resurrection.
Similarly, Christians are generally becoming more introverted and less willing to share their faith and beliefs with others. Barna writes, “As young adults have children, the prospect of them seeking a Christian church is diminishing–especially given the absence of faith talk in their conversations with the people they most trust. With atheists becoming more strategic in championing their godless worldview, as well as the increased religious plurality driven by educationand immigration, the increasing reticence of Christians to engage in faith-oriented conversations assumes heightened significance.”
The most positive trend observed is a stronger orientation – particularly on the part of young Christians – to engage in community service opportunities. Nonetheless, Barna observes that unless service is tied to strong Scriptural underpinnings, participation will likely wane.
I think Barna has some valid points here – also one of the main reasons why I enjoy writing about them because of the insight of their observations.
Do you see the same things developing in your church and community?