“For starters, it appears that most Americans like the security and the identity of the label ‘Christian’ but resist the biblical responsibilities that are associated with that identification. For most Americans, being a Christian is more about image than action. Further,” he continued, “researchers and those who use research data must be careful how they portray people’s spiritual commitment. Such descriptions are greatly affected by the way in which commitment is measured.”
In an earlier study, Barna observed the trend that people who demonstrate a high-level of faith commitment tend to be less associated with local congregations in the traditional sense—especially in the northeast. He even wrote a book about this, titled, Revolution. In his assessment of this trend, Barna believes that a new form of church experience is emerging.
However, in my previous analysis, I was not so sure this was a good thing. In fact, it demonstrates our staunchly individualistic style of faith rather than our commitment to Jesus Christ. We would presume to "design" our Christian experience rather than commit or "covenant" ourselves together as local communities. We desire to segment ourselves into groups of similar-maturated individuals, rather than engage in the hard work of committing to each other's maturity as a community—together only because of the blood of Jesus, not maturity level, the rituals, or the lack of rituals.
I believe this latest study confirms some of my suspicions, although I am not sure Barna would agree with me. I see a good and bad trend in the Christian world. The good side is that people desire to find ways of experiencing God that don't always fit man-centered, prescribed, encounters. On the other hand, protestants have always been individualistic in American culture. Some of the fruit of this attitude is constant splits, denominational births and deaths, and drifting from grace to law.