Christian invisibility – the biggest threat facing the Church

christian invisibility

Christian invisibility in our culture is one of the biggest issues facing the Church.

So says research expert George Barna (pictured), founder and former owner of The Barna Group, a market research firm that studies Americans’ religious beliefs and behaviours.

Barna lists two other big issues for the Church today: the steady decrease in a biblical worldview and the dwindling concern for spiritual formation.

Negative trends

Over the last few decades, Barna has observed negative trends increasingly permeating Western Christianity.

“People have become more selfish, churches have become less influential, pastors have become less Bible-centric” he says.

“Families have invested less of their time and energy in spiritual growth, particularly of their children.

“The media now influences the Church more than the Church influences the media, or the culture for that matter. The Christian Body tends to get off-track, arguing about a lot of things that really don’t matter.”

Decline in discipleship

The decline in Jesus’s mission of discipleship and a lack of solid, biblical training from seminaries is a trend that troubles Barna.

Metrics which churches use to gauge success — attendance, fundraising and infrastructure — have little to do with Jesus’s mission he says.

“Jesus didn’t die for any of that. So we’re measuring the wrong stuff and, consequently, we get the wrong outcomes.”

He also thinks seminaries lead local churches into thinking that they’re actually training and providing qualifications to individuals God has called to be leaders.

They unwittingly set young ministry leaders up for failure, he claims.

What to do now

Barna advocates for a radical return to biblical roots – which would mean rethinking the modern Church structure.

The institutional Church as we’ve created it is man-made. It’s not in the Scriptures he says.

He is urging believers to invest in children rather than buildings. “They’re the future of the Church.”

“We need to go back and recognise it starts with families; parents have the primary responsibility … local churches need to support parents in that endeavour.

“If we do that, we’ll be able to grow the three percent of adults who are disciples in America today to a larger proportion.”

The rise of AI

Barna is concerned about the potential negative impact artificial intelligence (AI) will have on the Church.

“As the Body of Christ, we’ve got to be very suspicious of and careful about anything that even labels itself ‘artificial’.

“… I just encourage genuine leaders to be very cautious about inviting any of that into our lives and … then influence other people’s lives.”

Parents should check AI and media to ensure they aligns with biblical values before allowing their children to access them, he says.

Take the initiative

Finding ways to reverse negative trends and revitalise discipleship is critical says Barna.

If we don’t look for such ways, the elites in our culture will have the opportunity to shut down spiritual freedom, he adds.

This is our moment. “We either will put up or shut up. And I would suggest that we put up.”


Additional reading

News category: World.

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