Curt Flewelling, FISM News
A recent study by the faith-based research organization the Barna Group found that 44% of Americans said that they were more open to God than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The poll also revealed that 77% of respondents expressed a belief in a higher power and 74% reported that they wanted to grow spiritually. The findings are consistent with polling that the group conducted five years ago.
At first blush, this could appear to be a good opportunity for Christian leaders to spread the Gospel, but they may have their work cut out for them.
The opportunity that church leaders face when courting these individuals will be challenging, given the fact that many of these seekers do not view God in a traditional way.
Pew Research data indicates that nearly half of Americans who believe in a God expressed that it is not the God depicted in the bible. Despite this problem, Barna CEO David Kinneman notes that the group’s new data gives Christian leaders cause for hope.
Kinneman said, “Though religious affiliation and church attendance continue to decline, spiritual openness and curiosity are on the rise.” This openness could be a blessing, but some Christian leaders are also uneasy as this receptiveness could also mean a willingness to explore other faiths as well.
In addition to losing Christians to other faiths, previous Pew Research polls have indicated that many adults are leaving Christianity to become atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.”
A large majority of Americans have expressed a willingness to explore spirituality; however, this spirituality can mean different things to different people.
Kinneman stressed that if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be furthered “the church has real work to do to bridge the trust gap for people who are spiritual but not religious.”
Previous polls conducted by Barna have clearly indicated that more and more Americans are shunning formal religion and are clamoring for something different. In order to seize this opportunity, the Church has to find a way to shake off its stodgy, judgemental label.
Kinneman asserts that if the Church can meet the spiritually open where they are and as they are, they can seize this opportunity to further the Kingdom. If the word of God can be presented in an uncompromising but loving way, they have a shot.
Will this new research spur the church to rise to the occasion or will it continue to lose seeking individuals to faiths/dogmas other than Christianity.