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Researcher: Where Are Today’s Disciples?

by | Tue, Sep 19 2023

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Just days after claiming millions of uncommitted Christians are causing a “catastrophic decline in a Biblical worldview” veteran Christian researcher George Barna says that’s also led to a critical shortage of disciples.

In expanding on the theme of his new book titled: Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul, Mr. Barna observed Christians are swapping a Biblical worldview for alternative philosophies.

His research found most parents are so poorly discipled in their faith that they are incapable of passing on Biblical values to their children and were now “outsourcing that responsibility” to churches and others.

He told the American Family Research Council’s ‘Pray,Vote,Stand Summit’ that: “The only true social crisis is a worldview crisis. The result is a paucity of Jesus’s disciples. We treat the symptoms rather than the cause of the crisis.”

Mr. Barna outlined a series of statistics to back up his view. Specifically, he documented that there are 174 million self-identified Christians that constitute 68% of the United States; 90 million theologically-defined born-again Christians that account for 35% of the population; 128 million Christians who believe in the existence of the God of Israel that make up 50% of the population; 84 million who go to a Christian church once a week that account for 33% of the population; and 46 million self-identified Christians that are deeply committed to their faith that add up to 18% of the population.

“None of these things constitute what a disciple is,” he asserted.

The Christian Post reports: “He rejected the definition of a disciple as a good person, noting that all people are sinners. He had a similar rebuttal to the definition of a disciple as someone who believes in God, stressing that Satan and demons believe in God as well. Reacting to the definition of a disciple as someone who attends church, he emphasised that Christians have an obligation to “be the church” rather than just go to church.”

The veteran researcher pushed back on the idea that anyone with a Christian upbringing is a disciple, insisting that “discipleship is not inherited.” He pointed to examples of Jesus directly defining the term “disciple” in the Bible, including in John 8:31, which calls on disciples to obey Jesus’s teachings. Additional passages he cited as illustrative of what constitutes a disciple include John 13:35, which instructs disciples to love other disciples, and John 15:8, which orders disciples to produce spiritual fruit.

Mr. Barna ultimately defined a disciple as “someone who lives like Jesus because they think like Jesus,” while adding that “most people do not act like Christ because they do not think like Him. To consistently think like Jesus, you need a Biblical worldview — the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual filter that enables you to consistently and confidently make the decisions that He would make.”

The Christian researcher maintained that a lack of a Biblical worldview among parents posed problems for their children, finding that “less than one percent of adolescents and teens are on track to have a Biblical worldview.” He also pointed a finger at pastors: “Most pastors neither have a Biblical worldview nor are committed to Biblical worldview development. A large majority of Protestant pastors think they are doing an excellent or very good job of developing congregants’ worldview, [but] many senior pastors confuse transmitting information through preaching with discipleship founded on a strategic worldview development process.”

“Children’s pastors confuse family satisfaction, generic Bible exposure, and habitual attendance with effective child discipleship,” he warned, adding that “very few churches have a meaningful worldview assessment process to gauge how their people are doing.”

Image: Screenshot – Pray Vote Stand Summit 2022