• Scotland: Lessons for Effective Ministry in a Post-Christian Context

    Scotland: Lessons for Effective Ministry in a Post-Christian Context

    August 27, 2015— Can the Christian community flourish in a post-Christian context? This is the main question behind a landmark study of the state of faith and effective ministry in Scotland—the first of its kind for Barna Group outside of North America.

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  • 2015 Sees Sharp Rise in Post-Christian Population

    2015 Sees Sharp Rise in Post-Christian Population

    While the United States remains shaped by Christianity, the faith’s influence—particularly as a force in American politics and culture—is slowly waning. An increasing number of religiously unaffiliated, a steady drop in church attendance, the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the growing tension over religious freedoms all point to a larger secularizing trend sweeping across the nation.

    But how do the numbers stack up? Is America, home to the largest Christian population in the world, actually becoming a “post-Christian” nation? In a recent study, Barna Group analyzed 60,808 interviews conducted over a seven-year period to measure irreligion in American cities. Currently, 78% of Americans describe themselves as “Christian,” but in order to dig deeper than just self-affiliation, Barna Group looked at a variety of key faith indicators for both belief and practice.

    To measure a person’s level of irreligion, Barna Group tracks 15 metrics related to faith (you can find the full list of 15 at the end of the article). These factors speak to the lack of Christian identity, belief and practice. These factors include whether individuals identify as atheist, have never made a commitment to Jesus, have not attended church in the last year, or have not read the Bible in the last week.

    These kinds of questions—compared to ticking the “Christian” box in a census—get beyond how people loosely identify themselves (affiliation), and get to the core of what people actually believe and how they behave as a result of their belief (practice). These indicators give a much more accurate picture of belief in America.

    To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet 60% or more of the factors (nine or more out of 15 criteria). “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 80% or more of the factors (12 or more of these 15 criteria). Read more about Barna’s post-Christian metric.

    Where Are We as a Nation?
    Whether one believes this decline of “Christian America” calls for a time of lament, or presents great opportunity (or both) for the church, one cannot help but accept the changing landscape. In just two years, the percentage of Americans who qualify as “post-Christian” rose by 7 percentage points, from 37% in 2013 to 44% in 2015. Across the United States, cities in every state are becoming more post-Christian—some at a faster rate than others

    Find out which American cities ranked as the most “Post-Christian” in 2015—
    and see where you city stands >

     

    Post-Christian Metrics
    To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet 60% or more of the following factors (nine or more). “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 80% or more of the factors (12 or more of these 15 criteria).

    1. Do not believe in God
    2. Identify as atheist or agnostic
    3. Disagree that faith is important in their lives
    4. Have not prayed to God (in the last year)
    5. Have never made a commitment to Jesus
    6. Disagree the Bible is accurate
    7. Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
    8. Have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
    9. Agree that Jesus committed sins
    10. Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
    11. Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
    12. Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
    13. Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
    14. Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
    15. Do not participate in a house church (in the last year)

    About the Research
    The data reported in this article are based on telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 60,808 adults conducted over a seven-year period, through 2015.

    The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is plus or minus 0.4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All non-institutionalized adults in the 48 contiguous states were eligible to be interviewed and the distribution of respondents in the survey sample corresponds to the geographic dispersion of the U.S. adult population. Some interviews were conducted in Spanish, but the vast majority of the interviews were completed in English.

    All telephone interviews were conducted by Barna Group. All households were selected for inclusion in the sample using a random-digit dial technique, which allows every telephone household in the nation to have an equal and known probability of selection. Households selected for inclusion in the survey sample received multiple callbacks to increase the probability of obtaining a representative distribution of adults. Regional quotas were used to ensure that sufficient population dispersion was achieved. There were also minimum and maximum ranges placed on the distribution of respondents within several demographic variables that were tracked during the field process to ensure that statistical weighting would not be excessive. When a particular attribute reached one of the parameters, the sampling selection process was varied to preclude individuals who did not meet the necessary demographic criterion, with the interviewer seeking a person from the same household who fit the desired criterion. Up to 30% of telephone interviewing was conducted on cell phones in the data represented in States.

    Online interviews were conducted using an online research panel called KnowledgePanel® based on probability sampling that covers both the online and offline populations in the U.S. The panel members are randomly recruited by telephone and by self-administered mail and web surveys. Households are provided with access to the Internet and hardware if needed. Unlike other Internet research that covers only individuals with Internet access who volunteer for research, this process uses a dual sampling frame that includes both listed and unlisted phone numbers, telephone and non-telephone households, and cell-phone-only households. The panel is not limited to current Web users or computer owners. All potential panelists are randomly selected to join the KnowledgePanel; unselected volunteers are not able to join.

    The survey questions pertaining to faith and demographics were analyzed in reference to two different geographic perspectives: by DMA and by state. The label “DMA” stands for Designated Market Area and represents a unique geographic area that also serves as a commonly accepted media market as defined by The Neilsen Company. DMAs have been configured so that the entire U.S. is assigned to one, and only one, of 210 DMAs. These are based on the television viewing habits of the residents in each county.

    While there are 210 DMAs, this report contains data for 117. These are the areas in which Barna had a sufficient number of completed surveys with people from a given market. In most markets, we had a sample of 150 or more; a few smaller markets had a minimum of 100. We used the same minimum-level criteria for the states analyzed in this report.

    Some calculations include data from The Nielsen Company/Local Television Market Universe Estimates and the U.S. Census Bureau.

    © 2015, Barna Group

  • Friendships Are the Top Thing People Love Most About Their Cities

    Friendships Are the Top Thing People Love Most About Their Cities

    July 29, 2015—“There’s no place like home,” repeats Dorothy as she taps those famous ruby slippers together. The place to which she so desperately longs to return is Kansas, that little corner of the world she calls home. One might imagine the Depression-era dustbowl of Kansas is no match for the wonders of Oz, but it’s the place she feels rooted, attached and secure.

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  • Putting Down Roots: Most Americans Plan to Stay Where They Are

    Putting Down Roots: Most Americans Plan to Stay Where They Are

    July 15, 2015— Leslie Knope’s endearing enthusiasm for her beloved town of Pawnee in NBC’s Parks and Recreation may be rubbing off on the rest of us, because an increasing number of Americans are “going local.” From food to clothing to breweries, locally owned and locally grown have become premium labels. Whether it’s an objection to corporate franchising, a push for more local jobs or a desire to utilize local resources more sustainably, “going local” stems from a real sense of attachment or belonging to place.

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  • Christians React to the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage: 9 Key Findings

    Christians React to the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage: 9 Key Findings

    July 1, 2015—— On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. This landmark decision was met with both celebration and sorrow as Americans on both sides of the debate voiced their opinions on the decision. A new Barna survey conducted in the wake of the ruling reveals nine key findings that will help make sense of where Americans stand—and what’s next in this divisive conversation.

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Teen Role ModelsJanuary 31, 2011 - Teenagers’ preferences and tastes greatly influence America’s cultural identity. The people teenagers look up to as their role models matter a great deal in determining the shape and substance of the next generation of churchgoers, consumers and citizens.

A study conducted by Barna Group among a national sample of teenagers gives new insight into whom teens select as their role models and why those individuals captured their attention.

The Question
The nationwide sample of teenagers asked 13- to 17-year-olds to identify the person whom they admire most today as a role model, other than their parents. A follow-up question probed the reasons they define that person as a role model. (David Kinnaman, who directed the study, explained that parents were left out of the assessment because so many teenagers—particularly younger ones—have high regard for their parents or feel compelled to list their parents as role models. Previous research shows that mentioning parents is almost an automatic response for many.)

The "Who"
So who do teenagers name as their role models? Even while limiting the answers to non-parents, family members still comes out on top. The most commonly mentioned role model is a relative—37% of teens named a relation other than their parent as the person they admire most. This is typically a grandparent, but also includes sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, and uncles.

After “family,” teens mention teachers and coaches (11%), friends (9%), and pastors or other religious leaders they know personally (6%).

Notice that a majority of teens indicated that the people they most admire and imitate are those with whom they maintain a personal connection, friendship, or interaction.

Beyond the realm of the people they know personally, entertainers (including musicians and actors) were named by 6% of teens, followed by sports heroes (5%), political leaders (4%), faith leaders (4%), business leaders (1%), authors (1%), science and medical professionals (1%), other artists (1%), and members of the military (1%).

The high-profile leaders most commonly named were President Obama (3%) and Jesus Christ (3%). Other “celebrities” mentioned by multiple teenagers in the study included entertainers Tyra Banks, Rob Dyrdrek, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. The only athletes who earned multiple mentions were LeBron James, Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps, Mike Tyson and David Wright. In the spiritual domain, besides Jesus, teens were most likely to admire Mahatma Gandhi and the Pope. Social and business leaders garnering teen attention included Walt Disney, Bill Gates, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The writers who captured the imagination of teens included Yumi Tamura (Japanese Manga artist) and Alan Moore (English comic book writer).

The "Why"
Respondents described a wide range of reasons why they named a particular role model. The most common rationale (26%) was the personality traits of that person (e.g., caring about others, being loving and polite, being courageous, and being fun were some of the characteristics mentioned most often). Another factor in teens’ thinking was finding someone to emulate (22%) or that the teen would like to “follow in the footsteps” of their chosen role model.

Encouragement is another reason for teens’ selections (11%), which included those who said the individual “helps me be a better person,” is someone who is “always there for me,” and is the person who is “most interested in my future.” Other reasons: the role model accomplished his or her goals (13%), overcame adversity (9%), works hard (7%), is intelligent (7%), performs humanitarian effort and activism (6%), maintains strong faith (6%), has great talent (5%), and exudes self-confidence (1%). Although not listed often, some teens identified wealth (3%), self-sufficiency (1%), and fame (1%) as the reasons for preferring a specific leader or role model.

The study pointed out that relatives were most often esteemed because of goals accomplished, personality traits, and overcoming adversity, while friends were most highly regarded because of the encouragement and support they provide the teen. Faith leaders received recognition because of their strong spiritual convictions, their moral lifestyles, and because the teen hopes to pattern their lives like these leaders. Coaches and teachers also made the grade because teens hope to follow their lifestyles and because of the encouragement coaches and educators dole out.

Not surprisingly, entertainers and sports figures are recognized most often for their talent. However, the profiles of the two types of celebrities diverge from there. Entertainers earned teens’ attention not only with their humanitarian efforts but also with fashion and money. In contrast, sports stars scored points with teens based on their accomplishments as well as their ability to overcome adversity.

The most common reasons teens admired President Obama were his hard work and self-confidence. Jesus connects with teens because of his concern for others and being an example to follow.

What it Says
Kinnaman, who is president of the Barna Group, offered four insights about the current mindset of teenagers based on the findings:

1. For better and worse, teens are emulating the people they know best. More than two out of three teens identify people they know personally as their primary role model. Many parents and youthworkers fret about the role models of the next generation. Yet, one reason to remain hopeful about the development of young people is their reliance upon the people they know best: friends, relatives, teachers, pastors, and coaches. At the same time, that reality underscores the insistence of many parents that they influence the people with whom their child associates, in order to be sure that their kids are surrounded by people modeling positive values and life choices.

For more information about how parents effectively guide the choices of their children, read Revolutionary Parenting, by George Barna. 


2. Teenagers’ role models reveal that teens want to get ahead, accomplish goals, overcome obstac
les… and be encouraged along the way. For all the talk about the social consciousness of the next generation, their role models are rarely selected because of a person’s service or sacrifice for others. Young people, like most other Americans, choose their role models because those people are achievers and because they help teenagers feel better about themselves. None of these aspirations is necessarily misguided, but the focus tends to be uniquely American: on tasks and self, rather than on God and others.

3. Spirituality is only of modest concern to the aspirations of most teens. Teens rarely identified spiritual mentors. Moreover, few teens consider issues of faith, religion or morality when deciding whom they will try to emulate. Even among young Christians, their role models are virtually no different than other teenagers. (The only exception is an expected outcome: those teens actively involved in a church are slightly more likely to identify a spiritual or faith leader as one of their models.) While other Barna research shows that teens are active spiritually, that behavior generally does not influence the “who” and the “why” of teens’ role models.

4. Outside of their personal relationships, teen role models reflect a broadening mindset. The next generation selects its heroes from a wide spectrum of both people discovered through both the global stage and micro-niches. The menu of celebrities crosses multiple sectors, ranging from skateboarders and MTV hosts to international graphic novel artists, scholars, social innovators and historic leaders; from teen idols to celebrities who came of age in the 1960s. The eclectic nature of the role models they embrace is not new but the diversity of pools from which they choose those models is atypical. Their choices are substantially affected by media imagery and exposure.

Find your cause. Read the new Barna Book, The Cause Within You,
by Matthew Barnett, pastor of the Dream Center in Los Angeles, California
. 


About the Research
This report is based upon nationwide survey, conducted by Barna Group with random samples of teenagers, ages 13 to 17. The study, known as YouthPoll℠, is an annual tracking study, conducted online, using one of the nation’s only nationally representative online panels. The survey included interviews with 602 teens. The sample has a maximum margin of sampling error of ±4.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Minimal statistical weighting was used to calibrate the sample to known population percentages in relation to demographic variables.

Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research, produces media resources pertaining to spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-monthly update on the latest research findings from the Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website (www.barna.org). Additional research-based resources are also available through this website. 

© Barna Group 2011.

Copyright Disclaimer: All the information contained on the barna.org website is copyrighted by Issachar Companies, Inc., 2368 Eastman Ave. Unit 12, Ventura, California 93003. No portion of this website (articles, graphs, charts, reviews, pictures, video clips, quotes, statistics, etc.) may be reproduced, retransmitted, disseminated, sold, distributed, published, edited, altered, changed, broadcast, circulated, or commercially exploited without the prior written permission from the Barna Group.