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Worldview of preteens threatens future of the church in America: study

The Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has a sober warning for the American church. “We are on the precipice of Christian invisibility in this nation” as new research shows that preteens are rejecting beliefs associated with a biblical worldview, it said in a report.

The report contrasted the views of preteens with those of parents of children younger than 13, pastors of Christian churches and teenagers. Among the key findings:

  • When asked if they believed that “Jesus Christ is the only way to experience eternal salvation, based on confessing your sins and relying only upon his forgiveness of your sins,” just 36 percent of preteens answered in the affirmative. Thirty-four percent of parents and 54 percent of children’s pastors said the same.
  • Twenty-five percent of preteens agreed that “the Bible is the true word of God that should be a guide to knowing right from wrong, and living a good life.” Significantly higher shares of parents (44 percent) and children’s pastors (62 percent) expressed agreement with the statement stressing the value of the Bible.
  • Less than half of preteens (21 percent), parents (28 percent) and children’s pastors (36 percent) believed that “there are absolute truths — things that are right and things that are wrong, that do not depend on feelings, preferences or circumstances — those truths are unchanging and knowable.”
  • Although similarly small percentages of preteens (27 percent) and parents (33 percent) agreed that “the main reason to live is to know, love and serve God, with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength,” a majority of children’s pastors (56 percent) identified knowing, loving and serving God as the purpose of life.
  • Only 17 percent of preteens defined “real success in life” as “consistently obeying God,” along with 19 percent of parents and 42 percent of children’s ministers. Additional findings about the views and spiritual lives of preteens included in the report state that 26 percent of children between the ages of 8 and 12 “consistently consult the Bible when trying to determine right from wrong” and that 21 percent of preteens surveyed “believe turning to the Bible is the best way to distinguish right from wrong.”

”The worldview development of children is the existential challenge facing the American church today,” said George Barna, the director of the research center. “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.”

Amazingly, children begin forming their worldview between 15 and 18 months of age and by the age of 13, it’s almost entirely formed, according to Barna. Research shows it is unlikely to change much, if at all, over the remainder of their lives.

Studies have already shown other, older generations, have already drifted away from biblical truth.

He does offer hope suggesting parents consult the strategies and tactics outlined in Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul. 

Having written extensively on worldview over the past three decades, Barna says any parent who so desires can be a part of the solution, which simply begins with a commitment to raise a spiritual champion. This, he says, requires a solid plan that is consistently executed by the adult.

“The plan calls for a steady diet of teaching, discussing and modeling biblical principles, as well as evaluating how well the child is doing at understanding and applying those principles.”

Barna says, “We’re now aware of the most effective practices for fostering the spiritual growth of young disciples. The only factor missing is a large number of parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, coaches, and other influential individuals who are willing to make it their top priority in life.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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