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Barna: Christianity on precipice of “invisibility” unless churches prioritize helping children develop a biblical worldview


As apostasy and relativism take hold in society and even in our churches, this latest survey shows that an alarming number of Christians, including parents and children’s pastors, are rejecting biblical truths and the narrow path that leads to life.

A recent survey by Arizona Christian University shows that the majority of tweens are rejecting core tenets of the Christian faith, and that issue stems from the syncretic worldview of their parents and even children’s pastors.

The survey, released last week asked preteens ages 8-12, parents, and children’s pastors questions regarding the Bible, absolute truth, whether Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and other existential questions.

The answers imply that preteens’ rejection of a biblical worldview stems directly from the adults who influence them.

When asked if they believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to experience salvation, 36 percent of children, 34 percent of parents, and 54 percent of children’s ministers said they believed that.

Only 25 percent of children said that the Bible contains the true words of God and should be a guide to right and wrong, compared to 44 percent of parents and 62 percent of children’s pastors.

Approximately 21 percent of children agreed that there are absolute truths, including things that are right and wrong, regardless of feelings or circumstances, while only 28 percent of parents and 36 percent of children’s pastors assented.

Just over a quarter of children, or 27 percent, agreed the main reason to live is to love and serve God, while 33 percent of parents and 56 percent of children’s pastors answered yes.

The lowest number came from asking if real success in life can be defined as consistently obeying God. Only 19 percent of parents and 17 percent of children agreed while 42 percent of children’s pastors did.

George Barna, director of research of the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, said the answers show that parents shape a child’s worldview. “Children are intellectual and spiritual sponges in their preteen years. They are desperately trying to make sense of the world, their identity, their purpose, and how to live a meaningful and satisfying life.”

Barna added,

“Parents, in particular, have a duty to focus on and invest in the development of their child’s worldview, which is simply their decision-making filter for life. If parents do not fill that vacuum, other sources— such as the media, the schools, and even the child’s peers—will influence that worldview construction. The child’s worldview will inevitably develop. The critical questions are who will shape it and what worldviews will be most forcefully and consistently proposed.”

The Cultural Research Center defines a biblical worldview as “a means of experiencing, interpreting, and responding to reality in light of biblical perspectives. This view provides a personal understanding of every idea, opportunity, and experience based on the identification and application of relevant biblical principles so that each choice we make may be consistent with God’s principles and commands. At the risk of seeming simplistic, it is asking the question, ‘what would Jesus do if He were in my shoes right now?’ and applying the answer without concern for how we anticipate the world will react.”

They have found that just 2 percent of children, 4 percent of parents, and 12 percent of children’s pastors have a biblical worldview.

Barna said that the decline has been ongoing for decades.

“If you follow the data, you learn that we have had a decreasing percentage of Americans embracing a biblical worldview since we started tracking this in the early 1990s. We have endured more than 30 years of consistent decline, with a very limited response by the Church,” he cautioned, adding,

“Because of the strong correlation between biblical worldview and genuine Christian discipleship, we are on the precipice of Christian invisibility in this nation unless we get serious about this crisis and invest heavily in fixing what’s broken. This is so much more significant than the endless, simple-minded arguments in church circles about attendance and musical preferences. The worldview development of children is the existential challenge facing the American Church today.”

How can we expect children to have a strong biblical worldview when their parents and even children’s pastors have such a skewed view of God and His Word. A belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God is essential to maintaining a worldview aligned with God. To that end, no person should be teaching in a church if they do not believe in the infallibility of Scripture.

The slide into apostasy has happened in many churches, denominations, and faiths claiming to be Christian. This is the rejection of the Bible, and the truth therein, as infallible and instructive for our daily lives. Once ministers reject some of the Bible, they will soon reject all of it. That’s why we see churches with homosexual pastors teaching that all roads lead to Heaven and that Jesus accepts us exactly as we are, with no expectation to repent or even change.

If you are part of a church and the pastor or any person responsible for teaching you or your children does not believe all of the Bible, leave that church today. Scripture informs us that there is such a concept as absolute truth. “Progressive Christianity” has instead adopted the world’s system of relative truth, whereby feelings, slogans, and self-identity trump God’s Word.

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17,

“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

The Bible is the very Word of God and it provides us all the guidance we need for life.

It is in the Bible that we read Jesus’s direct statement of the exclusivity of the Gospel, that He is the only way to salvation. John 14:6 states, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

Jesus isn’t just your buddy who is content to leave you in your sin without expecting you to follow His commands. He is God and He demands surrender to Him as the Lord of your life. Jesus stated in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

The Apostle John reiterated this in 1 John 2:4-6 saying,

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

The Bible and the biblical Jesus are not friendly with progressive Christianity’s universalist beliefs that truth is relative. If you want your child to know Jesus, you must teach them the Bible.

Maybe you’re a parent and you believe the Word of God, but you need help knowing how to apply it to today’s confusing cultural and societal issues. That’s what the Freedom Center is here for. In addition to our regular articles, editorials, and podcasts, we have a Biblical Worldview section that helps Christians think about modern challenges and controversies by looking at the Bible and seeing what God has to say on the matter.

Even if you’re a parent who believes the Word of God and teaches it to your children, you will find that there are many in today’s world working to undermine God’s teachings. Media, social media, schools, and ideologues intend to teach your children a very different viewpoint. If at all possible, parents should look for alternative education options that provide children with a biblical perspective free from the influence of a hostile school system, including homeschool or a private school. An option that provides the best of both possibilities is Liberty Online Academy (LUOA), which allows K-12 students to learn online at home.

The most critical thing you can do, though, is to ensure that you (and your children) are reading the Bible every day. Parents should start by trying to read a chapter each day and work your way to reading more. Make sure you are part of a church where not just the senior pastor but all the pastors, including those with influence over children and youth groups, teach God’s Word as the authoritative source for truth and for living.

For there is only one true guide that enables us to navigate this dark world and keep us on the narrow path that leads to light and life, as stated in Psalm 119:104-105: 

“From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.”

If you like this article and other content that helps you apply a biblical worldview to today’s politics and culture, consider making a donation here.

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