This is an excerpt from Barna Trends:
There are more married people in church than single people. You probably already know this just from looking around every Sunday—but here’s some data to prove it. According to a recent Barna study, less than a quarter of active churchgoers are single (23%).
The same Barna study found the majority of singles who are not active in or committed to a church are searching for meaning and purpose in life (55%). In fact, almost two-thirds of these singles (65%) are looking for ways to improve themselves and nearly one out of six (15%) would be motivated to go to church for the opportunity to find out more about God.
One in five (21%) singles who are not active in or committed to a church are interested in going to church to have support during difficult times. One-quarter of singles (23%) would be motivated to go to church if they simply knew that anyone would be welcomed into the church community.
“When was the last time you had a conversation about God? For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”
“A growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 who had shared about their faith agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual (i.e., themselves). Twenty-five years later, three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility (29%), a nearly threefold increase.”
“The truth is, most Christians are busy with other things: the day-to-day of normal life—jobs, kids, budgets, sports, weather and what’s premiering on Netflix this week. None of this is bad, but the unfortunate reality is that most adults don’t seem to connect their everyday experiences with their faith. Or, at least, they aren’t talking about it if they do.”
“Followers of Christ have something essential and meaningful to share with their families, neighbors, friends and those they come into contact with,” … We ought to help Christians begin to make the connections between their everyday, ordinary life—their sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and the faith that sustains them.”
This is from Barna Research about Prayer in America:
“What we found gives us a much more nuanced portrait of the American prayer life. The most notable aspect of which is it’s individual quality. People pray mostly alone—it is a solitary activity defined primarily by the immediate needs and concerns of the individual. Corporate prayer and corporate needs are less compelling drivers in people’s prayer lives.”
“Though the vast majority of praying adults (89%) direct their prayers to “God,” they don’t all pray to the same god (if they pray to a deity at all). For instance, only half of praying adults (50%) pray to Jesus, and less than one-quarter (23%) pray to the Holy Spirit.”
“American adults who pray with regularity do so with varying motivations, the most common being to offer “gratitude and thanksgiving” (62%). Generationally, this is lowest among Millennials (53%) and highest among Boomers (71%). An equally popular prayer incentive is the “needs of their family and community” (61%), followed by “personal guidance in crisis” (49%). ”
“The generation most willing to cover prayer requests from others are Elders (47%), who are almost twice as likely to do so than Millennials (27%). Just less than half of praying adults (47%) most often direct prayers toward their own health and wellness.
“Almost all American adults (94%) who have prayed at least once in the last three months most often choose to pray by themselves. Not only are most prayers a solo practice, but the vast majority are also most often silent (82% compared to 13% audible and solo prayers). Affirming this shift is the fact that only a very small percentage most often pray audibly with another person or group (2%), or collectively with a church (2%).”
Insight into the need for authentic and sincere Christians to practically live out their faith, and to openly address challenging issues.
You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith
David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)
Book Findings: Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.
Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations
Vern L. Bengtson. Norella M. Putney, Susan Harris, Oxford University Press (2013)
Book Findings: Several key findings were discovered in this 35-year study of families, focusing on the question of how religion is passed across generations:
1. Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith.
2. When a child sees and hears that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives, they’re much more likely to follow suit.
3. Young adults are more likely to share their parents’ religious beliefs and participation if they feel that they have a close relationship with those parents.
4. Young Christians who leave the faith are far more likely to return when parents have been patient and supportive – and perhaps more tolerant and open than they had been before the prodigal’s departure.
Things not to say to your single friends:
“YOU WILL MEET SOMEONE WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT.”
“YOU MUST HAVE SO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS!”
“SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MEET PEOPLE? ARE YOU PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE? HAVE YOU TRIED ONLINE DATING?”
“IF BEING MARRIED IS A DESIRE OF YOUR HEART, THEN GOD WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.”
“YOU’RE JUST TOO PICKY.”
Statement: Even the smallest sin deserves eternal damnation.
Finding: 61% of all participants strongly disagree with this statement.
“The results jump off the page as the strongly disagree column spikes to 61%. That conviction is fundamentally a conviction about the character of God. If he is perfectly holy and just, he cannot let sin go unpunished. But God is no longer holy—in the minds of six out of ten Americans.”
Book Findings: Young adults are unable to think coherently about moral beliefs and problems. Young adults have an excessive focus on consumption and materialism as the good life.
America’s Changing Religious Landscape
Pew Research Center (2015)
Study Findings: As the Millennial generation enters adulthood, its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations.
Book Findings: There appears to be no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the version of Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them “to change anything that’s broken in the world.” Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on. “We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens’ religious apathy. “…The gospel of niceness can’t teach teens how to confront tragedy. It can’t bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?”
“What we believe shapes how we behave. As we see evangelicals slipping away from foundational beliefs, we also see them rejecting biblical teaching on Christian living. Convictions about the key ethical issues that previously defined evangelical ethics, especially in the public sphere, are weakening as church attendance slackens.”
Statement: Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.
Finding: Only 52% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.
Statement: Abortion is a sin.
Finding: Only 48% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.
Findings about the spiritual life of young adults.
The State of Theology
Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research (2015)
Study Findings: In this survey of theological beliefs, researchers asked self-professing Christians to respond to a series of statements related to classic, historic Christian doctrine. In every answer offered related to these theological beliefs, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents. Young people who identify themselves as Christians, are far more likely to hold views that aren’t Christian.
“The impression that a praying mother leaves upon her children is life-long. Perhaps when you are dead and gone your prayer will be answered.” – Dwight L. Moody
“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.” – Billy Graham
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. -Proverbs 31:30