Barna Study Finds Most Church Members Ignorant of Christian Basics

A 2001 study by the Barna Research Group reveals that only 41 percent of the adults in the nation's 12 largest denominations could be classified as "born again." This conclusion was not based on whether they believed they were born again, but on certain statements of belief such as the sinlessness of Christ and existence of Satan.

"The report is a striking indictment of the loss of doctrinal confidence and the erosion of biblical beliefs that marks American Christianity," said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Barna found that, of the Baptists surveyed, 57 percent believed that works play a part in salvation and 45 percent believed that Jesus was not sinless. Only 34 percent thought that Satan was real and 66 percent believed that the Bible was totally accurate. Just fifty one percent believed that Christians are responsible to witness to others.

When the above criteria along with belief in a all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect God who created and rules the universe, and that salvation is by grace alone, was included in the definition of an "evangelical," only 8 percent of the adults qualified.

"For too many 'evangelicals,' all that remains is emotional fervor and religious participation -not the living faith founded upon the truth of the Gospel," Mohler concluded.

These statistics go a long way in explaining the poor participation by Christians in the business of soul winning. Pastor Y. T. Wee of Singapore quotes one frustrated church member: "I am tired of being put through a guilt trip each time I go to church. The preacher constantly chides us for not winning souls. I want too, but will somebody show me how?"

Many church members can relate to this by remembering a time when they tried to witness and the other person tied them in knots with questions they could not answer. To help us all in this, Pastor Wee has updated and expanded his Soul-Winner's Handy Guide with many additional helps for witnessing to a wide variety of unsaved people. It now contains 40 of the most common questions and excuses encountered when witnessing.

He presents pointed answers with scripture references to objections such as:

  • The Bible is just a story: old fashioned and outdated.
  • Why is Christianity the only way to God?
  • I can make it to heaven by my good works.
  • I'm too busy - I still have time to believe in Christ.
  • What about evolution?
  • Why does God allow Satan, sin and suffering to exist?

A careful study of this "handy guide" will inspire a new level of confidence in the timid soul winner. The Christian who is successful in reaching others for Christ must be willing to spend considerable extra time in preparation. Wee's book makes this effort much easier.

Time is short and the harvest is ripe. Soul winners, we need to get on with it.

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