In our last blog, we discussed the first of five points of research I’ve come across since the turn of the millennium regarding the claim that the church is not making disciples. In this blogpost, we will discuss the second point.
Consider this comparison of American believers vs. unbelievers (seekers/"outsiders") for 42 attitudes, opinions and values and for 15 behaviors, from George Barna's book From Growing True Disciples:
Note that with 22 of the 42 attitudes, opinions and values (that’s 52%), there was NO measurable difference between believers and unbelievers. The same was true for 8 of the 15 behaviors (53%).
In 15 of 42 (36%) attitudes, opinions and values, there was a statistical difference, but the difference was not so large as to be obvious in a crowd of both believers and unbelievers. The same was true for 6 of 15 (40%) of the behaviors.
In only 5 of 42 (12%) of the attitudes, opinions and values and in only 1 of 15 (7%) of the behaviors was the difference sufficiently great to be obvious among the people in a crowd comprised of both believers and unbelievers.
You may be interested in knowing which factors were significantly different for American believers vs. unbelievers (seekers/“outsiders”).
Among the 42 attitudes, opinions and values that were surveyed, American believers were more likely to say:
The acceptability of seeing pornographic videos or pictures is a matter of morality, not merely personal taste. (81% of believers vs. 58% of non-believers)
Abortion is morally wrong. (77% of believers vs. 52% of non-believers)
Hearing profanity on radio programs is annoying or bothersome. (75% of believers vs. 51% of non-believers)
To get by in life, you do not have to bend the rules for your own benefit. (65% of believers vs. 43% of non-believers)
There are moral truths which are unchanging. (50% of believers vs. 25% of non-believers)
For these issues, notice that, even though believers are significantly “better” than unbelievers, the percent of believers who hold God’s view is still far below 100%. Does that look like disciples of Jesus should look?!
Among the 15 behaviors that were surveyed, American believers were significantly less likely to drink alcoholic beverages. The other 14 behaviors were only barely different, if at all.
What is your reaction to this comparison of American believers and unbelievers?
Ask yourself this: If the only difference your unbelieving neighbor sees between his life and yours is that you won't have a beer with him, what is the chance that he is going to want you to tell him about Jesus?