“If God is, who is He? What is He like? How do I relate to Him? What is His will? Foolish questions if God isn’t. But if He is I must know all I can about Him–that becomes my theology.” – A.W. Tozer
The Barna Group recently released their latest research in an article titled “Six Megathemes Emerge from Barna Group Research in 2010.” I finally had a chance to read this article today. I think this is very relevant and timely. I’d like to take each of the six megathemes in the coming days and give you some thoughts on each one. Please feel free to share your thoughts too.
Over the past 11 months, Barna surveyed 5,000 people. According to the article, “Change usually happens slowly in the Church. But a review of the past year’s research conducted by the Barna Group provides a time-lapse portrayal of how the religious environment in the U.S. is morphing into something new.”
Megatheme #1 – The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.
Recently I had dinner with an old friend (he’s not old) who is now a missionary. When I asked him what the biggest differences he saw between the Christians on his field and those back here in the U.S., without hesitation he mentioned first and foremost the Biblical understanding of U.S. Christians is far below those he ministers to on the mission field.
The research indicated that the younger generation of Christians poised to take leadership of the Church in coming years lack the basic understanding of foundational doctrines. Barna also states that, “The theological free-for-all that is encroaching in Protestant churches nationwide suggests the coming decade will be a time of unparalleled theological diversity and inconsistency.” Unless you are paying attention to these trends, it probably seems incredible that such threats to Christianity loom on the horizon. The assumptions we’ve had about those lost and saved who walk through the front doors of our church won’t hold up in the coming years. The starting point for engaging them in Biblical Christianity is going to be drastically different.
What Can We Do?
(2 Timothy 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
(2 Timothy 2:15) “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
If we truly believe the Word of God is our daily bread, then we ought to know what it says. Study for the sake of head knowledge though isn’t the goal. We need a deep knowledge of God’s Word because in it we find the truth about the nature and character of the God we serve. We come to know the Savior more intimately by understanding Who He is. That’s one of the main goals of having a Sunday morning Sunday School class and a Wednesday night Bible study. We not only want the facts, we also want to know why we believe what we believe. A deep Biblical literacy will give us a foundation for standing on God’s principles and in His will when we are confronted with situations that create a choice between right and wrong. This type of study takes time and commitment. We can’t develop a deep faith by relying on soundbites and popular Christian books. In 2011, do you have goals for your spiritual growth? Do you have a direction for where you are heading in your relationship with Christ?
Albert Mohler addresses the prevalent thinking of our day that all religions, prayers, etc. lead to God. Our younger generations are being bombarded with the relativistic theology characterized by this conclusion.