the road ahead

What? Spiritual Priorities???
January 17, 2010, 10:07 pm
Filed under: ministry, spirituality

A recent Barna Group survey regarding religious themes for 2009 has been released. The report provides some interesting insights into the thinking of individuals and ministers concerning personal spiritual life. Here are some of the things that interested me in the research.

1. Faith/Spirituality, Not Christianity.

Today it is all about personal spirituality that may or may not be based on historical biblical theological principles from the Bible.

2. Customized/Individualized Faith

Many customize their own personal brand of faith with elements from many faith traditions.

3. Biblical Literacy Is Declining

The Barna report states: “Bible reading has become the religious equivalent of sound-bite journalism. When people read from the Bible they typically open it, read a brief passage without much regard for the context, and consider the primary thought or feeling that the passage provided. If they are comfortable with it, they accept it; otherwise, they deem it interesting but irrelevant to their life, and move on. There is shockingly little growth evident in people’s understanding of the fundamental themes of the scriptures and amazingly little interest in deepening their knowledge and application of biblical principles.”

4. Personal Spiritual Evaluation Is Unimportant

The Barna research says, “Our research found that a majority of churchgoing adults are uncertain as to what their church would define as a ‘healthy, spiritually mature follower of Christ’ and they were no more likely to have personally developed a clear notion of such a life.”

Have we lost any sense of spiritual priorities? What do you think? I would really like to read your thoughts on this report.


8 Comments so far
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The 3rd item sounds like a lot of sermons today. “When people read from the Bible they typically open it, read a brief passage without much regard for the context, and consider the primary thought or feeling that the passage provided.” Replace the word “consider” with “preach” and it sounds like what I get in church. As goes the shepard so go the sheep. Can you blame us?

Comment by Mike

We’ve learned to conform God to own lifestyles and preferences rather than conforming our lifestyles and preferences to His will. Biblical literacy and spiritual evaluation go hand in hand – spiritual truth exists before and outside of our personal preferences – we don’t make it up based on what feels good to us.

Comment by Steve

The good news is that “spiritual” interest is often high – there are many open nerves for the Good News of Jesus.
The tough news is that there is a mix and match “create your own hybrid” approach. The spiritual priorities that do exist are often adrift in dangerous seas. This puts self in the driver’s seat with little grounding in unchangeable truth rooted in the only Tri-une God.
As believers or ministers of the gospel, we may easily lean toward being popular or appealing. We may miss “speaking the truth in love”(Ephesians 4:15).
Getting people beyond these shallow tendencies may/will require us to walk alongside them and lead them deeper into God’s Word. They will not tend to go there alone.

Comment by Dennis

The findings are interesting, however, not to surprising. This has been ongoing for centuries in the West. Look at all our educational institutions, where creeds, sound orthodox teachings for the most part have all but dissolved. The statement regarding relevance is very true, and of course this goes right along with postmodern (or post-post modern thought).

Paul writes concerning this in several of his epistles. One particularly which stands out and was fitting for his day and ours is, 2 Tim. 3:5. Backing up to verse one, Paul writes in the last days…, and in verse five, having a form of godliness… The verses in between describe much of how people are. Moreover, look at how many businesses and various entities are operated (Christian ones alike), ethics, integrity and morality are all relevant nowadays.

One other factor which has crept its way into present Christendom is a true reverence, awe and fear of the Lord. Sad to say, but Barna’s research tells no lies.

Comment by David Brownlee

I’ve worked one on one with over 3000 Christian adults from across the US, from various churches and denominations, all age groups, diverse social economic and educational levels, and I have founded the exact same situation. We are in trouble!

Comment by Harry Schaumburg

I am disappointed with the declining biblical literacy findings. There are many thousands of women involved in in-depth Bible studies through BSF, CBS, Beth Moore, etc. What are they doing to share what they have learned? I also work with youth and I am dismayed at how seldom the Bible is really opened and studied with teens.
I agree with Mike’s comment: As the shepherd goes, so go the sheep. Let’s get serious and let the kids see what the greatest book on the planet has for them!

Comment by sfunk55

As Bob Sjogren says, most spiritual activity is all about “me”. What does this passage say to me? Will I be fed at this church? Why do I have to park so far from the building? Never about how God might be wanting to change them, to change the world.

Comment by Mike Mitchell

I have observed that most pastors do not know their people’s needs. They decide what the needs are and preach to what they determine. As a pastor, I try to listen to the people. It is amazing how much they want to be Christian but do not know how unless someone disciples them.

Comment by David Carter

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