We cannot fix something until we know it is broken. And according to the latest Barna research, the American Church is in dire need of repentance, repair, and revival.
This time, the study focus is on Christian pastors, their philosophy and worldview. It’s only natural to expect your church leaders to have a proper understanding of Scripture, but the new nationwide survey of pastors shows a large majority do not even have a biblical worldview.
Yes, you heard that correctly. This then begs the question, what in the world are they teaching their congregations?
I’ll get right to one of the takeaways from this new study by quoting the Director of Arizona’s Cultural Research Center, George Barna:
“It certainly seems that if America is going to experience a spiritual revival, that awakening is needed just as desperately in our pulpits as in the pews; …This [research] is another strong piece of evidence that the culture is influencing the American church more than Christian churches are influencing the culture;
The culture has more influence than the church. This is not a shock considering our moral decline over fifty-plus years.
If you’ve read any of my books and articles, you know some of us have been sounding the alarm about this compromise and decay for years.
According to the research, slightly more than a third (37%) of Christian pastors have a biblical worldview and the majority (62%) possess what is referred to as a “hybrid worldview” known as Syncretism.
Syncretism simply means having a combination of different forms of belief or practice, often representing personal preferences. Why is this so disappointing to some? Because in this context, we’re referring to pastors and spiritual leaders who should be deeply established on the truth of Scripture and sound in the doctrine they teach.
An obvious consequence of pastors conforming to worldly influences and philosophies is that the people they lead are likely to also lack a biblical worldview. To be blunt, many churchgoers are not even converted or they’re in contradiction between what they claim to believe and how they live their lives.
Rather than study and live out the Bible, some have a country club Christianity. Others seek to please man and put progressive ideas ahead of the Bible; things that may sound good or compassionate like social justice, diversity, inclusion, equity, and being “welcoming.”
Another concerning part of the new study is even more alarming: only 12% of Children’s and Youth Pastors today have a biblical worldview.
Why does this matter? It is well known that a young person’s worldview primarily develops before their teen years, after which it gets refined into their twenties.
So, takeaway #3 from the research is the fact seven out of eight youth pastors lack a biblical worldview. They may be good at entertaining the kids but bad at doctrine. This explains why “so few people in the nation’s youngest generations are developing a heart and mind for biblical principles and ways of life,”
Sobering, yes. Irreversible? Probably. This also contributes to the rejection of truth, delusion, and depravity in our society over the last several decades.
In March of this year, I reported on a similar study revealing a mere two (2%) percent of parents of pre-teens in America have a biblical worldview, but a majority of them claim to be Christian.
It is now necessary to clarify and define what it is to be a true believer and how to apply the Bible to our lives. Too many have conformed to this world and not only lack discernment, but a basic understanding of God’s Word.
Most would say and have said they consider themselves to be a ‘good person’ or a Christian. The problem is some have no idea what it means to be a disciple or follower of Christ and to trust in Him alone for salvation apart from works.
The confusion and disconnect is in part a result of overworked or untrained pastors, syrupy sermons, topical ‘relevant’ series, a refusal to teach Bible prophecy, accommodation, a fear of man, and failure to address culture, confront evil, and equip the saints.
The reason the new study from Barna is shocking to some and concerning to most is because it exposes great weakness in the church. This is more than a chink in the armor. It starts at the top and deals with leadership, Bible ‘teachers,’ CEO pastors, youth leaders, and potential worldview shapers.
This helps us understand why the American church has generally caved to culture, lost influence, and declined so rapidly. In other words, we now see more clearly what happened to the salt and light.