Monday, April 03, 2006

Barna Annual Survey Finds Five Positive Trends in 2006 Evangelical Belief and Behavior

Pollster George Barna, evangelicalism’s very own version of an Old Testament prophet, who so often brings tidings of bad news and worse, released word of several positive trends in his April 3, 2006 report.

According to the work of the Barna Group, based upon new data from their annual tracking survey of religious behavior and beliefs, “there has been a significant increase in religious activity related to five of the seven core religious behaviors studied by the company.”

In the words of the Barna group:

“The most prolific jump in activity relates to Bible reading. Bible readership plummeted to a 20-year low of just 31% in 1995, and began to slowly climb back to higher levels, finally returning to the 40% mark in 2000. After several years of stalled growth, increases began again in 2004, continuing through 2006, when Bible readership hit 47% of adults reading the Book during a typical week, other than when they are at church. That is the highest readership level achieved since the 1980s, according to the Barna tracking data.”

Among the other positive signs cited by the Barna Group: Church attendance has rebounded to 47% from the 37% recorded in 1991; small group participation has reached a new high in 2006 with 23% engaged in such a gathering during a typical week; church volunteerism has finally returned to its 1991 high of 27%; even adult Sunday school attendance has climbed from its 17% mark in 1996 to 24%.

Only prayer and evangelism showed no signs of significant change among the persons polled who met the Barna criteria as evangelicals: "Survey respondents who were born again Christians – meaning they had made a commitment to Christ that was important in their life, and believed they would go to Heaven after they died solely because they had confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior."


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