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And while we would all be tempted to answer right away, “Of course!” Truth be told, it is getting more and more difficult to identify believers from non-believers in the world today.
For example. According to the George Barna Research firm, 54% of all Americans polled indicated that they are committed to having a deeper connection with God, and that they would do whatever it takes to get and maintain that deeper relationship. 54%.
Now how high do you think that percentage jumped for mainline Protestants like ourselves? If 54% of all Americans are committed to having a deeper connection with God, and are ready to take action to make that happen. What percentage of people in churches such as ours do you think the same holds true for? The answer. . .49%.
According to George Barna, there are actually fewer people inside the church with a desire for a deeper connection with God and a readiness to do whatever it takes to make that happen than outside the church. Hardly a sign that we are behaving like believers.
How about if you ask the nation what their highest priority is. How many would say their faith is their highest priority? Of all the people in our nation, those who would hold their faith as their highest priority, comes in right around 15%. Of those in mainline, denominational, protestant churches like ours, it jumps up all the way to. . .18%.
According to Barna’s research, less than one out of every 5 people in a church like ours even sees their faith as their highest priority. In some ways, we don’t look all that different from the world, do we?
How about one of today’s political hot buttons? 45% of all adults in our country say that abortion is a morally acceptable behavior. 45%. When polling people that identify themselves as born again Christians, you would expect the percentage to plummet, right? Well, it does, all the way to 33%. One out of every three self proclaimed born again Christians find abortion morally acceptable behavior. Are we “behaving like believers?”
How about one more? From the put your money where your mouth is, or “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” department –
3% of all American households tithe to their place of worship. 3%. That number jumps when you look at born again Christians to. . .9%. And for evangelicals like ourselves... also 9%. Less than one out of every 10 Christians, and only 6% more than the number including all non-Christian households in America tithe their income to their church.
The picture in the world today, the picture being drawn of believers by those who call themselves believers, does not look all that different than the unbelieving world. Not just in what we believe, but in how we act.
We could look at other areas and see that church divorce rates are just as high as divorce rates in un-churched households. Suicide rates differ very little. Our distinctives are harder and harder to distinguish.
And not just in how we live our lives as individuals, but also in how we
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