Thursday, April 9, 2009

First, We Need More People to Leave the Church

15% of Americans now claim no religious affiliation. (Newsweek: The Decline and Fall of Christian America - April 13, 2009 )This is an increase from 8% in 1990. You can wring your hands and ask, "What are we going to do," or you can face the facts that churches ignored in Barna's 2001 research that indicated the lack of biblical literacy. The lack of Christian knowledge proclaimed from the pulpit and taught in churches was destined to result in a decline in religious affiliation.

Understand and remember this:
Biblical illiteracy is the disease that results in the symptoms our churches and our society are now trying to deal with.
You can fix a civil symptom (gay marriage) with legislation and you can fix a church symptom (low church attendance) with a program (free doughnuts), but the disease of biblical illiteracy will still be eating away at the soul of your churches and society.

In 2001 researcher George Barna told us that America was immersed in a crisis of biblical illiteracy. At that time half of incoming freshman in college who called themselves Protestants could not list Moses, Isaac, King Saul and the Babylonian exile in chronological order. It was at this same time the most familiar Bible verse was:
God helps those who help themselves.
The above "Bible verse" is not a Bible verse. Here are some examples from Barna's 2001 research that flashed the big yellow warning lights telling us people would soon consider our religion irrelevant:
  • Mainline denominational churches: 35% believe Jesus was sinless and 34% believe the Bible is totally accurate.
  • Conservative churches: 55% believe Jesus was sinless and 66% believe the Bible is totally accurate.
  • Non-denominational churches: 63% believe Jesus was sinless and 70% believe the Bible is totally accurate.
Here is an interesting thought. If pastors would start teaching the Word of God those numbers would go up. Guaranteed!
  1. First, if the people heard the truth they could then believe the truth which would increase the percentage of people in the church who believe that Jesus was sinless and the Bible is accurate.
  2. Or, second, if the people heard the truth they could reject the truth and leave the church which would also increase the percentage of people in the church who believe that Jesus was sinless and the Bible is accurate.
In other words, we do not have enough people leaving the church yet! Let's get started!!

Galyn Wiemers


KetchMan said...

Just wanted to encourage you by letting you know I'm checking in once in a while. I heard aboutthis Barna research and thought I'd send it along too...
Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.

Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. Holding the opposing view were 9% who disagreed somewhat and 46% who disagreed strongly. Six percent did not have an opinion on this matter.

Much like their perceptions of Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure.
Kerry Ketcham

Douglas Kofi Adu-Boahen said...

Yup it is painfully clear that something is wrong in the way the church is being taught (assuming some teaching is going on) Great post, Pastor Wiemers.