June 25, 2024

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June 25, 2024

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George Barna Warns Our Culture Has ‘Reached a Time of Christian Invisibility’

George Barna is somewhat of an icon when it comes to research into US Christians and the health and trends of the American church. In a recent interview on what he sees as the biggest threats to our churches, he said, “We’ve reached a time of Christian invisibility.” What does that mean?

Well, he explains:

This is our moment, we’ve reached a time of Christian invisibility in our culture. What I’m seeing now is that we’re getting to this place where the typical American . . . will not have anyone in their circle of influence who has a biblical worldview. You’re not going to be influenced with God’s truth. (emphasis added)

Wow—let that sink in for a moment. The typical American soon won’t be influenced by anyone with a biblical worldview. That’s already the reality in some places in the US, and it is coming to the rest of the nation if the slide away from Christianity continues. Now, I’ve written extensively on why this is happening, most recently in my book Divided Nation, but today I want you to consider this from the interview with Barna:

On a wider scale, one of the most troubling trends Barna highlights is the decline in discipleship and a lack of solid, biblical training from seminaries. He criticized the prevalent metrics used by churches to gauge success—attendance, fundraising and infrastructure—which he stressed have little to do with Jesus’ mission.

“There is poor leadership in seminaries that mislead local churches into thinking that they’re actually training individuals whom God has called to be leaders and are qualified to be leaders and certifying them to lead local churches, not knowing any better bringing them on,” he said.

Barna clarified that while many seminaries have “good intentions,” they set young ministry leaders up for failure.

“You get what you measure,” he contended. “So if you measure the wrong things, you’ll get the wrong outcomes . . . [pastors] measure how many people show up, how much money they raise, how many programs they offer, how many staff persons they hire, how much square footage they built out. Jesus didn’t die for any of that. So we’re measuring the wrong stuff and, consequently, we get the wrong outcomes.” (emphasis added)

Several years ago, Answers In Genesis released a book called Already Compromised. This book was based on America’s Research Group’s survey of Christian colleges and seminaries, and their research was shocking—very few of these Christian educational institutions held to a literal Genesis and true biblical inerrancy. Many had compromised with the thinking of our day or refused to speak up on important issues.

Like Barna said, few Christian colleges and seminaries are discipling and properly training the next generation of pastors. And if pastors aren’t teaching congregations a biblical worldview, parents are less likely to have the proper worldview to pass along to their children (or even understand that is what they need to be doing!). As my friend Heidi St. John says, “You can’t pass on what you don’t possess,” and that’s true of pastors and parents.

Yes, many seminaries have compromised and no longer train pastors with a true biblical worldview. But, praise the Lord, there are still pastors who are faithfully teaching all of God’s Word to their congregations (but, sadly, they’re the minority). If you’re a pastor, I urge you to consider how you disciple your congregation and what kinds of programs your church emphasizes—are you truly passing along a biblical worldview in all areas, or do you avoid speaking on controversial issues such as Genesis and everything that’s grounded in Genesis including gender, marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, only one human race, and more? Earnestly think about this and consider how you can be more effective in passing on a biblical worldview and encouraging and equipping parents to do likewise.

And if you work at a Christian college or seminary (or financially support one), soberly consider how that school is training pastors—are you giving “solid, biblical training” or teaching them to measure the wrong things and therefore get the wrong outcomes?

God has put us here “for such a time as this.” So let’s be faithful to contend for the faith and make disciples until Christ returns.


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George Barna is somewhat of an icon when it comes to research into US Christians and the health and trends of the American church. In a recent interview on what he sees as the biggest threats to our churches, he said, “We’ve reached a time of Christian invisibility.” What does that mean?

Well, he explains:

This is our moment, we’ve reached a time of Christian invisibility in our culture. What I’m seeing now is that we’re getting to this place where the typical American . . . will not have anyone in their circle of influence who has a biblical worldview. You’re not going to be influenced with God’s truth. (emphasis added)

Wow—let that sink in for a moment. The typical American soon won’t be influenced by anyone with a biblical worldview. That’s already the reality in some places in the US, and it is coming to the rest of the nation if the slide away from Christianity continues. Now, I’ve written extensively on why this is happening, most recently in my book Divided Nation, but today I want you to consider this from the interview with Barna:

On a wider scale, one of the most troubling trends Barna highlights is the decline in discipleship and a lack of solid, biblical training from seminaries. He criticized the prevalent metrics used by churches to gauge success—attendance, fundraising and infrastructure—which he stressed have little to do with Jesus’ mission.

“There is poor leadership in seminaries that mislead local churches into thinking that they’re actually training individuals whom God has called to be leaders and are qualified to be leaders and certifying them to lead local churches, not knowing any better bringing them on,” he said.

Barna clarified that while many seminaries have “good intentions,” they set young ministry leaders up for failure.

“You get what you measure,” he contended. “So if you measure the wrong things, you’ll get the wrong outcomes . . . [pastors] measure how many people show up, how much money they raise, how many programs they offer, how many staff persons they hire, how much square footage they built out. Jesus didn’t die for any of that. So we’re measuring the wrong stuff and, consequently, we get the wrong outcomes.” (emphasis added)

Several years ago, Answers In Genesis released a book called Already Compromised. This book was based on America’s Research Group’s survey of Christian colleges and seminaries, and their research was shocking—very few of these Christian educational institutions held to a literal Genesis and true biblical inerrancy. Many had compromised with the thinking of our day or refused to speak up on important issues.

Like Barna said, few Christian colleges and seminaries are discipling and properly training the next generation of pastors. And if pastors aren’t teaching congregations a biblical worldview, parents are less likely to have the proper worldview to pass along to their children (or even understand that is what they need to be doing!). As my friend Heidi St. John says, “You can’t pass on what you don’t possess,” and that’s true of pastors and parents.

Yes, many seminaries have compromised and no longer train pastors with a true biblical worldview. But, praise the Lord, there are still pastors who are faithfully teaching all of God’s Word to their congregations (but, sadly, they’re the minority). If you’re a pastor, I urge you to consider how yo