Thursday, 06 June 2013 12:25

Hope in a Post-Christian Age

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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The era in which we live has been described as “post-Christian”, and there is significant research that shows the numbers of people who are religiously unaffiliated, also known as the “nones”.  Several months ago, I wrote about that group of people, which could be as high as 1 out of 5 members of our population.

 

There’s more evidence: the Barna Group has actually identified 15 characteristics, or metrics, of so-called “post-Christian” culture.  Here is the list of those factors:

 

1. do not believe in God

2. identify as atheist or agnostic

3. disagree that faith is important in their lives

4. have not prayed to God (in the last year)

5. have never made a commitment to Jesus

6. disagree the Bible is accurate

7. have not donated money to a church (in the last year)

8. have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)

9. agree that Jesus committed sins

10. do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”

11. have not read the Bible (in the last week)

12. have not volunteered at church (in the last week)

13. have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)

14. have not attended religious small group (in the last week)

15. do not participate in a house church (in the last year)

 

People are identified as “post-Christian” if they meet at least 60%, or 9 out of the 15 factors.  Someone is described as “highly post-Christian” if he or she meets at least 80%, or 12 out of 15.

 

Coverage on the Christianity Today website stated that 37 percent of American adults qualify as post-Christian, with roughly 1 in 4 of such adults qualifying as highly post-Christian. Not surprisingly, it found that Mosaics – ages 18 to 28 - are more likely to qualify as post-Christian than Boomers or Seniors.  48% of Mosaics would be considered post-Christian.

 

Among those 15 measures, Barna found that:

57% have not read the Bible in the last week.

47% do not feel a responsibility to share their faith.

33% have not attended a Christian church in the past year.

27% have never made a commitment to Jesus.

18% have not prayed to God in the last week.

13% disagree that faith is important to their lives.

 

 

These are amazing, and, in some respects, alarming statistics, that can reinforce what we may have already heard and challenge us to think more deeply about reaching our culture with the gospel.  This data confirms and explains a lot - belief determines behavior, and some of the disturbing cultural trends can be directly traced to the faith perspective of people in our society.

 

It is important to remember that no one is beyond hope, no one is beyond the everlasting arms of God, and even the person whom we characterize in a negative manner is not locked into that pattern – in a moment, the power of God can change a heart.  Just because someone is not involved in organized religion or claims no faith at all doesn’t mean he or she may not be searching for meaning in life, perhaps looking for or sensitized to spiritual truth. 

 

Even though there are signs all around us of a departure from the ways of Christ, the Bible is a book that contains hope, and our lives are vessels through which hope can be displayed.  We have wonderful opportunities to relate the love and life of Jesus to people who have not found the answers or peace they are looking for.

 

We have to be prepared, though.  When you look at the top metrics in the Barna survey: those who have not read the Bible in the last week (57%) and those who do not feel a responsibility to share their faith (47%), it tells me that more than just the “unaffiliated” fit into those categories.  If we are not connecting with God nor taking His Great Commission seriously, then we are seriously impeded in making the kind of impact on our society that I believe He desires.   We need the presence of Jesus to enlighten and energize our hearts, to awaken us internally so that we can align externally with the work of His Kingdom.

 

As we enter into the saving knowledge of Christ, experience His regeneration and develop a hunger for more of Him and His Word, then He will shape our thinking, resulting in transformed behavior.  More heart change means a culture that is more in conformity to the principles of Scripture and the presence of Christ.   

 

We are not beyond hope – there is a great responsibility on each of us to shine and share the love of Jesus and allow Him to touch people through us.  It flows from a right relationship with Him – well-positioned Christians can present the answer to a post-Christian culture. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 06 June 2013 12:34
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