Yesterday I posted part I of an interview with David Kinnaman, author and president of the Barna Group. He and Gabe Lyons (cofounder of Catalyst) wrote an important book called “UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why it Matters.” One of the most important takeaways for me can be summed up in these quotes from pages 47 & 48…
“In virtually every study we conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born-again Christians fail to display much attitudinal or behavioral evidence of transformed lives. For instance, based on a study released in 2007, we found that most of the lifestyle activities of born-again Christians were statistically equivalent to those of non-born agains. When asked to identify their activities over the last thirty days, born-again believers were just as likely…to visit a pornographic website, to take something that did not belong to them, to consult a medium or psychic, to physically fight or abuse someone, to have consumed enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk, to have used an illegal, nonprescription drug, to have said something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something he or she did, and to have said mean things behind another person’s back. No difference.
“One study we conducted examined Americans’ engagement in some type of sexually inappropriate behavior, including looking at online pornography, viewing sexually explicit magazines or movies, or having an intimate sexual encounter outside of marriage. In all, we found that 30 percent of born-again Christians admitted to at least one of these activities in the past thirty days, compared with 35 percent of other Americans. In statistical and practical terms, this means the two groups are essentially no different from each other. If these groups of people were in two separate rooms, and you were asked to determine, based on their lifestyle alone, which room contained the Christians, you would be hard-pressed to find much difference.
“Here is what all this boils down to – and, I believe, one of the most important findings of our research for this book: among young outsiders, 84 percent say they personally know at least one committed Christian. Yet just 15 percent thought the lifestyles of those Christ followers were significantly different from the norm. The gap speaks volumes.”
Part III of the interview will be posted tomorrow with my thoughts on what this means for the church as we move into the future. Enjoy!