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Home > Trend Watch > 2014 > April 4 > Barna: "Americans Divided on the Importance of Church"

Trend Watch

Perspective on the buzz

Is church important to your spiritual life? Given that you're reading this on a site dedicated to ministry leadership, we hope it is. But not everyone in your community—or congregation—feels as strongly as you do. Recent research from Barna indicates that to the question of, "What helps Americans grow in their faith,"

"… people offered a variety of answers—prayer, family or friends, reading the Bible, having children—but church did not even crack the top-10 list."

According to Barna's analysis:

Although church involvement was once a cornerstone of American life, U.S. adults today are evenly divided on the importance of attending church. While half (49%) say it is "somewhat" or "very" important, the other 51% say it is "not too" or "not at all" important. The divide between the religiously active and those resistant to churchgoing impacts American culture, morality, politics and religion.

If this is of interest, be sure to catch more of Barna's analysis in the full report.

Developing this line of thought, Barna quotes New York City pastor Jon Tyson, who opines on our richly resources—but declining in influence—church culture.

Tyson says:

"In contrast to the early church, we live in one of the most well-resourced Christian cultures in history. Think about the ease, access and cultural privilege with which we American Christians find ourselves today. We can get any number of Bible translations at a Walmart or Dollar Store. Podcasts are readily available from the most gifted and popular Bible teachers. We can watch video sermons, listen to live worship albums and read in-depth studies in Greek and Hebrew. Many of us have entire collections of Bible software on our phones. We have Bible conferences, church growth conferences, denominational conferences, leadership conferences, missional conferences, church planting conferences and even conferences for pastors and people who don't like church. We have Christian TV, Christian radio, short-term mission trips and presidents who are interviewed about their personal relationships with Jesus Christ.
"How could the early church capture the imagination of the Roman empire while we, with all our resources and rigor, are slowly losing influence in our culture?"

How indeed?

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