Thursday, December 29, 2005

Barna: Top Religious Trends of 2005

The Barna Group recently published its Top Religious Trends of 2005 report, highlighting what they consider the top four trends relevant to churches:

1. Local churches are neglecting (or in the Group's words, "essentially ignoring") three "critical spiritual dimensions": ministry to children, ministry to families, and prayer.

2. Congregations are rapidly incorporating new technologies into their activities such as large projection screens (almost two thirds of Protestant churches, the web (57%), and email (56%). Given the Pew report that I just blogged on that shows that 67% of Americans are online, the church is clearly following rather than leading in this area. What a surprise.

3. Black congregations are slowly dying. Also not a surprise, but sad to hear.

4. A new generation of leaders (Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes) are replacing the previous generation (Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Jerry Falwell, etc.).

More compelling are the four trends the Group identified that are "pertaining to the faith of individuals":

1. "The energizing of evangelicals." While evangelicals make up just 7% of the adult population, they receive a disproportionate amount of public attention. Barna cites the focus on evangelicals in the 2004 election as an example of this.

2. Rising Biblical illiteracy. Also not a surprise.

3. The Revolutionaries. Barna's most recent book is all about this phenomenon, and I've blogged on it here and here.

4. Innovation in expressions of faith by the younger generations. Money quote: "[W]ithin the next five years young adults will boldly introduce a blizzard of unique expressions of faith that will cause heightened tension with the older generations of believers." I don't think you need to wait five years for that, George. It's already happening.

Barna's taking it straight on the chin from a lot of people in the IC and as has been said elsewhere, I "hope he has a great retirement plan." The assault against George looks to me like nothing more than a shooting of the messenger, because the change train is rolling and it isn't looking for a conductor to make it happen. At most, Barna will simply provide some clarity and permission for believers who are already headed out of the IC but can't find their voice as to why they are compelled to do so.


At 3:10 PM, Blogger trent@ said...

Great info, even if some of it should be obvious, or expected.
Thanks bro1


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