But often it is unmatched by deep commitment.

A Gallup poll commissioned by The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) indicates “a rising tide of religious involvement and interest,” according to George Gallup, Jr. He cautions, however, that this trend will lead to deeper spiritual commitment among American Christians only “if the churches do their job.”

The survey, titled The Spiritual Climate in America Today, is based on telephone interviews with 1,029 adults nationwide. They were selected to represent faith groups in numbers proportional to the population. Six in ten claim their interest in spiritual matters has increased over the past five years. A specific list of religious activities, excluding formal worship, indicates the form this spiritual awareness is taking.

Participation in Bible study (26 percent), prayer groups (17 percent), and religious education classes (20 percent) led the list, and these are also the activities in which the greatest number of respondents would like to become more involved. Between 8 and 13 percent of the respondents are engaged in evangelistic outreach, and the charismatic gifts of the spirit are used by between 3 and 5 percent.

But strong interest does not neatly translate into church attendance or strong commitment. Church-going percentages remain flat, and Gallup estimates “only 12 percent of the populace could be considered deeply and highly spiritually committed.” This “commitment gap” suggests to Gallup the direction in which churches should be headed: “Churches have not helped people bring the Bible into their lives,” he said.

He recommends that churches “help people structure their prayer life … understand the Bible … and [form] small fellowship groups because people desperately want ...

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