“This is another strong piece of evidence that the culture is influencing the American church more than Christian churches are influencing the culture,” Barna said of the survey results. “The research indicates that Americans are more likely to experience a positive impact on their worldview by hanging out with [spiritually active governance engaged conservative Christians] than they are by being in the presence or under the teaching of pastors.”
Taken on the whole, just under 2/3 of pastors embrace a form of syncretism, which is the blending of various belief systems together as one. In other words, purported ministers of the Christian faith don’t actually hold to the Christian faith, but an eclectic grab-bag of ideological, philosophical, and theological ideas that are fundamentally at odds with one another.
If America is going to experience a spiritual revival it must happen at the grassroots level.
For the most part, Barna explained, people largely form their perspectives on the world before they reach 13 years old, then go “through a period of refinement during their teens and twenties.”
“From a worldview perspective, a church’s most important ministers are the children’s pastor and the youth pastor,” he stated. “Discovering that seven out of every eight of those pastors lack a biblical worldview helps to explain why so few people in the nation’s youngest generations are developing a heart and mind for biblical principles and ways of life, and why our society seems to have run wild over the last decade, in particular.”
According to information provided to CBN’s Faithwire, Barna’s “American Worldview Inventory” is an annual survey developed in 2020 and conducted by the Cultural Research Center, surveying roughly 2,000 randomly chosen U.S. adults. The survey contains 54 “belief and behavior questions” that determine a “biblical worldview.”
“The AWVI survey questions relate to eight different categories of life,” states an explainer on the survey. “Those categories are faith practices; human character and nature; God, creation, history; purpose, calling; sin, salvation, God relationship; family and value of life; lifestyle, behavior, relationships; and Bible, truth, morals. The AWVI provides scores for each of those eight areas, as well as identifying one’s dominant worldview.”
“Respondents who answer 80% or more of the belief questions and 80% or more of the behavioral questions in harmony with biblical teaching are identified as Integrated Disciples, people who have integrated biblical principles into their mind and heart in such a way that they clearly have a biblical view of and approach to life,” it adds.
Of all eight categories, the only one showing a majority of pastors holding to a biblical worldview was the purpose of life and calling (57%). In the remaining categories, a minority of pastors were found to hold to a biblical worldview: 47% on family; 44% on God, creation, and history; 43% on faith practices; 43% on sin, salvation, God relationship; 40% on human character and nature; 40% on lifestyle, behavior relationships; and 39% on Bible, truth, morals.
Similar research conducted earlier this year and reported on by CBN News found that, although 67% of parents with pre-teens identified as Christians, only 2% were found to abide by a biblical worldview, which stresses the importance of children and youth pastors believing in and teaching Bible-based perspective on life.
Although concerned, Barna suggested he is not defeated by the survey’s results. It is important, he said, for people to be aware of the problem — because that is the only way to fix it.
“God is in the transformation business,” he stated. “Pastors who are willing to allow Him to transform their thinking and behavior can emerge from that process as a powerful example of what can happen when one’s heart, mind, and soul are surrendered to God.
These are perilous days. And the days to come may even be more perilous than today, but hope in God. Join the throng of God’s people and wage war against the power and principalities of darkness looming over the church. The powers of hell cannot prevail against Christ’s bride; time and time again this keen and hopeful Word has proven true. Be strong and courageous, act like men, and gird up your loins by going about those ordinary works which He prepared beforehand for us to walk in. Lo, Christ is with us, even to the end of the age.