If Christians suddenly discovered a permanent, lifetime cure for cancer … would they have a responsibility to share it with the world?
Of course they would … Keeping it to themselves would be unforgivable.
But as Christians, we have something much greater than a cure for cancer…
We have the only available cure for sin and eternal separation from God … yet most of us are keeping it to ourselves.
Sadly, few adult born-again Christians feel a personal responsibility to share the truth of Christianity with others.
New research by George Barna tracks the number of born-again Christians in the U.S. … not based on a single yes-or-no question … but based on people’s theological beliefs about sin and salvation.
Here are 15 shocking facts uncovered by Barna’s research that every Christian should know about:
- How does Barna determine if a person has been born again?
Barna uses measures that evaluate if:
- A person has confessed their personal sin to God
- A person has asked Jesus Christ to save them
- A person believes they will live eternally in heaven only because of God’s grace and forgiveness
- The number of adults in the U.S. who are born again is declining.
From 1991 – when Barna began tracking the above beliefs – through 2005, an average of 40% of the adult population qualified as born again.
The average rose to 44% between 2006 and 2010 … but has dropped to 36% over the past 7 years.
Last year only 31% of adults indicated that they’re born again.
- Faith by age group shows a terrible trend.
America’s two older generations are more likely to be born again than are millennials.
Here is the sad age-group analysis of the percentages of born-again adults:
- Age 65 and older – 33%
- Age 50 to 64 – 37%
- Age 30 to 49 – 31%
- Under age 30 – 23%
As older adults pass away, the proportion of younger adults will increase, driving the total percentage of born-again adults lower.
And children and teenagers are showing a lower likelihood of becoming born again.
- Faith by ethnicity also supports a downward trend.
The research indicates that non-Hispanic whites have an above-average likelihood of being born again … but their proportion of the adult population in the U.S. will continue to decrease.
The two ethnicities that are growing and will account for a larger share of the nation’s future population are:
- Hispanics – 24% are born again
- Asians – 17% are born again
- Born again results by political party.
Voters aligned with the Republican Party are more likely to be born again (45%) than voters who identify as Democrats (27%).
26% of independent voters qualify as born again…
And 27% of adults who are not registered to vote are born again.
- Born again results by political ideology.
The research found the following percentages of born again adults according to political ideology:
- Conservative – 51%
- Moderate – 27%
- Liberal – 19%
- Catholic versus Protestant statistics.
People associated with a Protestant church are almost 3 times more likely to qualify as born again (55%) than those attending a Catholic church (19%).
These statistics may be influenced to some degree by the doctrinal emphases of the churches.
- The oddest finding: no church affiliation.
A significant percentage of born-again Christians (38%) say they are neither Protestant nor Catholic.
This category of believer was virtually unheard of in 1991 when Barna first began compiling statistics on born-again Christians.
- Male versus Female statistics.
Historically, women have been much more likely than men to be committed to following Christ.
But the gender gap in this area is shrinking…
Today 33% of women are born again … compared to 29% of men.
- Most common age of conversion.
Americans who are born again are most likely (68% to 32%) to make the decision to receive Christ before the age of 18.
Another 8% make their commitment during the typical college years (18 to 21)…
An additional 8% from age 22 to 29 … and 8% more during their 30s.
Only 9% of born-again Christians become born again at age 40 or older.
- Most dominant influence in becoming born again.
Parents (29%) … relatives (16%) … and a friend (5%) were influential in leading born-again Christians to a relationship with Christ.
This means that half of all born-again Christians should have been personally nurtured and mentored in their faith.
Perhaps this question should be looked at in a separate research study…
- Where do people more often become born again?
Church events account for 20% of born again conversions … pastors and other clergy provide an additional 8%…
Other factors and events playing a major role in conversion experiences:
- Personal circumstances and crises – 9%
- Christian concerts and evangelistic crusades – 4%
- Personal prayers for guidance and help – 3%
- Media-driven experiences – 1%
- Attitude toward sharing the good news.
Only 39% of born-again Christians believe they have a responsibility to share the gospel with others.
Of those adults who hold non-Christian religious beliefs, 21% believe they have a responsibility to share their beliefs with people who believe differently than they do.
- Salvation not by works … or by works … or by both?
Most disturbing is the finding that more adults (25%) believe that eternal salvation can be earned through good works than believe salvation can’t be earned (20%).
Even more surprising … among those who qualify as born-again Christians, 19% strongly believe salvation can be earned through goodness … while only 39% reject works-based salvation.
Also, only 30% of born-again Christians have a biblical worldview.
- The problem regarding evangelism.
The findings in this research identifies 3 major problems in the education and training of Christians:
- Christians are not being exposed to and taught the biblical worldview.
- Christians aren’t being taught the necessity of evangelism.
- Christians aren’t being equipped to share the gospel and to “give an account for the hope” within them.
The responsibility for spiritual nurturing and mentoring of children is primarily a parental one – it falls upon the spiritual parent to make sure that their spiritual children are fed and taken care of.
The apostle Paul outlined the model when he encouraged his spiritual child Timothy: “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
(2 Timothy 2:1-2)
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