Reflection on the latest Barna Poll

The latest 2011 Barna Poll on the religious belief and behavior trend of the nation shows a very interesting result.  According to the survey, regular Bible reading, church volunteering, adult Sunday school, church attendance all have dropped significantly since 1991.  The most significant increase are in the category of the “unchurched”, from 24% in 1991 to 37% in 2011.  Interestingly enough, the number who attends a sort of “mega church”, a congregation more than 600 people has remain the same. These are the general trend of what is going on in the church and any keen observer can tell that these are the reality of what is going on in the church today.

It is more interesting when we turn to look at the religious beliefs of the current population while keeping the religious behavior stats in mind.

“The percentage of adults who can be classified as born again Christians, based on their belief that they will experience eternal salvation based on their commitment to Jesus Christ, personal confession of sins, and acceptance of Christ as their savior, has risen by five percentage points. In 1991, the national estimate was 35% of adults met those criteria. Currently, 40% of adults can be classified as born again.”

I cannot say that I quite agree with the definition of “born again” based purely on the mental consent of the above statement.  Being born again, as found in the Scripture are much more than a mental consent of a few statements.

What’s more telling is the next part of the poll:

“When asked to choose one of several descriptions of God, the proportion who believe that God is “the all-knowing, all-powerful and perfect Creator of the universe who still rules the world today” currently stands at two-thirds of the public (67%). That represents a seven point drop from the 1991 level.”

And the belief about the Bible:

“The biggest shift has been in people’s perceptions of the Bible. In 1991, 46% of adults strongly affirmed that “the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches.” That has slumped to just 38% who offer the same affirmation today.”

The low concept about God and especially the Bible is really telling of the current state of the Church.  And how can 40% of the adults call themselves born again, yet only 38% believes the Bible is totally accurate?  There seems to be something wrong here.  And how can 84% of all adults call themselves Christians, yet only 67% believe that God is all knowing, all powerful and still rules today?

I think the results of this poll shows that one may not be a true Christian just because he calls himself so.  How do we know we are truly the children of God?  “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”  May the Spirit of God work in all of us that we would experience true conversion and truly be born again!

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