|Top Trends of 2011: Maximizing Spiritual Change|
Most Americans call themselves spiritual people and Christians. Yet, why is spiritual transformation so rare and fleeting? Barna released a major study this year exploring this timeless and timely question.
Much of Barna Group’s work through the years has shown the rarity of lasting spiritual transformation in people’s lives. For example, among those who believe they are Christians, just one-fifth say they live in a way that makes them completely dependent on God. A similar proportion of Christians claim that the single most important decision they have ever made was to invite Jesus Christ to forgive them and become their savior. And just one-sixth of Christians say they are totally committed to engaging in personal spiritual development.
This year, George Barna’s Maximum Faith Project added new knowledge about the obstacles and also pointed to significant insights that could lead to deeper spiritual transformation for individuals. The research revealed that most Christians simply do not understand the obstacles they face on the spiritual journey. Yet, the Maximum Faith study identified four common barriers to transformation, including lack of commitment, unwillingness to fully repent, confusing activity for growth, and failure to engage in genuine, accountable community.
One of the main discoveries of the project was that the spiritual journey can be mapped. In fact, the study describes 10 stops in the spiritual journey and shows why it is so rare for people to continue growing spiritually as well as how to help keep people moving. Many church leaders simply offer a menu of programs and spiritual activities, hoping that people will, in effect, choose the right “spiritual diet.” Instead, the most effective leaders understand that there is a defined and predictable process that people must undergo in order to be transformed. Consequently, these leaders give people a sense of this journey and then facilitate the conditions for people to experience such spiritual maturation.
Year in Review: Barna Trends