Why Are There Are Fewer Born Again Christians In America Today? Interview With George Barna: In today’s episode, we are going to be interviewing George Barna on the trends of this country from a Biblical, Historical, and Constitutional perspective. His research has found that since 2011 we have been on a pretty consistent decline of winning souls. Tune in or read below to learn why that is and also the tools we can use to reshape the culture!
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
Air Date: 12/19/2017
Guests: George Barna
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Faith And The Culture
You’ve found your way to the intersection of faith and the culture. Thanks for joining us today on WallBuilders Live! It’s a program where we talk about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. But, always from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective. We believe if you take those three perspectives, you’re going to get the right position on any issue.
We’re here with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Tim Barton with us, he’s president of WallBuilders and a national speaker and pastor. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator.
Visit us online at WallBuildersLive.com – that’s our radio site where you can learn more about the program, you can get a list of our stations, you can even listen to some of the archived programs from the last few weeks. And you can also send in your questions by sending them to [email protected], [email protected]. We try to answer those on our Thursday program’s – Foundations of Freedom Thursdays.
And then our other website is WallBuilders.com. That’s our main website with a lot of great materials available to you there. So, check those websites out today.
We’re here with David and Tim and, guys, always looking at it from a Biblical, historical, Constitutional perspective and that includes the trends in the country. And later on in the program, George Barna, a frequent guest on this program because he does such great research and helps us really get a look at where the culture is on these things. He’ll be with us later to talk about that, but let’s talk about what those trends are today.
Replacement Birth Rate – 2.1 is Zero Growth
Well, let’s look at the population for a bit. Because when you look at population, for a people to sustain themselves, you have to have a fertility rate of 2.1. In other words, for a family, for a husband and wife, they need to have 2.1 children if the population is going to sustain itself and not shrink.
Wait, wait, are you saying I’m an overachiever? I’ve got 4, so —
You’ve got four.
I’m an over — I like it. I did more than my part.
You did more than your part. And, by the way, 2.1 is because you need to replace yourself and your wife, or spouse, whoever. So that’s two, but you’re going to have some people who die of sickness or accidents or whatever. So, you need 2.1 to be zero growth.
Now, if you take that and look at where we are in countries — let me just go to Europe for a bit. You look in Europe and you have Spain with a fertility rate of 1.3. Now, what does that mean for the future of Spain?
Spain’s not going to look like Spain. It’s going to look like whatever immigrants are coming in that are having more kids than the home-growns.
The Average Muslim Fertility Rate is 3.1 – America’s at 1.9
It’s funny you should say that because the average Muslim fertility rate is 3.1. So, that’s two and a half times more than what Spain is. There’s a reason that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. And it’s the fastest growing because they have more kids and your kids tend to take up whatever religion you hold. Christians, Muslims, and anybody else, so, Hindu, Buddhist, same thing.
So, at this point, you’ve got Spain looking at 1.3. You have Italy at 1.3. You have Poland at 1.3. You have Greece at 1.3. Just keep going across Europe – that’s the reason that within 20-25 years, there will be no war in Europe and it will be a Muslim continent because of what happens with fertility rate.
Now, in America, for the first time in our history, we have fallen below 2.1 – we’re at 1.9. So, what’s happened is with the secularization of the world. The more secular you become the more you think people are the problem. We’ve had Rabbi Lapin explain this before and in God’s view, people aren’t the problem.
You mean, the population with when you look at the planet and the issues the planet, the problem with the planet is we have too many people on the planet.
That’s what secular people argue because God created the people to be in charge of the planet. But, under the secular view, the planet is to be in charge of the people. And so, nothing is higher than the planet. People need to die off. We’ve had the —
That’s that literally worshipping the creation more than the Creator.
That whole mindset and worldview there.
Islam is Growing Much Faster than Christianity
Yeah, Romans 1 talks about you get things reversed and you worship the creation more than the Creator. And so, for secular thinking people, the creation is the most important thing there is. So the less people there are the better off everything is.
Well, maybe that’s an even fighting chance if everybody in the world believed that. But, when Muslims don’t believe that and when other religions don’t believe that.
So, what you have right now is Islam is growing much faster than Christianity – hands down. It’s not even close. And you look at that fertility rate and that’s a big problem, big issue. Now in America, the two groups that do not believe the people are the problem are the ones that have the most kids. And one of them is guys like you, Rick, homeschoolers.
Homeschoolers have more kids on average and the other is evangelicals. Oh, that’s why you’ve got four kids because you’re an evangelical homeschooler. So that —
Actually, I did it because my elections were always really close and I thought if I had lots of kids I’d have more votes maybe. You know, but–
How About a Spiritual Fertility Rate?
So, with what happens right now, this is a natural fertility rate. In other words, this is physical births. But, how about a spiritual fertility rate? That means every Christian needs to be reproducing himself. At least bringing one other person to Christ, at least in his lifetime, if Christianity’s going to remain where it is now.
Now, if Christianity’s going to grow in the world, you’ve got to bring more than one person to Christ in your lifetime if there’s going to be any growth. And we’re at a point in America right now where the fertility rate, spiritually speaking, people are not bringing others to Christ and Christianity is shrinking. It’s the fastest shrinkage we have had in the history of the United States. Across the world, Christianity is not doing well because we’re just not sharing our faith with people and there could be several reasons why. But George Barna just finished a poll.
And George is the most cited pollster in American history, period. Hands down. And he just finished a poll showing how that, particularly with Christians sharing their faith, they do not share it with others. And as a result, we’re going to wipe out Christianity without the enemy having to take us over at all. We’re just not going to be repopulating the world with Christians because we’re not winning other people to Christ.
And that’s a real problem. This is the weakest the church has been in American history. We’ve not had this problem before, but we do now.
That’s such an interesting — I never thought about that “spiritual repopulation.” I’d say, not only just as important, more important, international implications when we are doing that. George Barna our special guest. Stay with us – we’ll be right back with George Barna on WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History.
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. American Patriot Paul Revere road to alert Americans of the impending arrival of the British. But he also sought patriot leader Samuel Adams and John Hancock to warn them that the British were seeking their execution.
Adams and Hancock were staying with the Reverend Jonas Clark in Lexington. When they asked Pastor Clark if his church was ready for the approaching British he replied, “I’ve trained them for this very hour. They will fight and, if need be, die under the shadow of the house of God.”
Later that morning 70 men from his church, and several hundred British in the first battle of the War for Independence. As Pastor Clark affirmed, “The militia that morning were the same who filled the pews of the church meeting house on the Sunday morning before.”
The American church was regularly at the forefront of the fight for liberty. For more information on this pastor and other Colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. George Barna is back with us again. George, always good to have you, sir, thanks for your time.
Good to be with you.
Hey, the website is culturefaith.com. And, George, you’ve got, man, you’ve written how many books? Like 40 or 50 or something crazy?
Yeah, I think it’s around 55 or 56 at this point.
I see. I lost count. I was behind. Somewhere in the middle of the night somewhere you wrote another five or six books I didn’t know about.
You know, you’ve got to keep your eye on me.
Action Steps to Turn Things Around
That’s fantastic though. Just great research and really puts the tools in our hands. First of all to get a good lay of the land. We kind of know what’s happening, the trends in the culture. But then you’re so good at giving us action steps and things we can do to turn things around. And certainly this topic today is an area we’ve got to turn things around if we want to see the country headed back in the right direction.
Tell us about your research on the fact that Christians are just not even spreading the gospel as much as we used to. And the numbers right now for born-again Christians and lowest in — since you’ve been doing the research.
Yeah, I started tracking this back in the beginning of the 90s. And from 1991 through 2005, the average percentage of adults who were born again Christians – not by calling themselves that, but people who would say that they believe that when they die they’ll go to heaven. They believe that only because they’ve confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. They know it is by God’s grace alone – not by any works that they’ve done. And so when we look at that number, it was 40 percent up through 2005.
It jumped up a little bit more to 44 percent between 2006 and 2010. But, ever since 2011, that number has been on a pretty consistent decline. The average for the last seven years is now down from 44 to 36 percent. This year in 2017, we’re at 31 percent. So, the trend is not good – it’s not likely to reverse itself.
Problems With How We Do Evangelism
When you look at our demographic patterns and the proportion of people in different demographic groups that are growing. In terms of the proportion of the population, they have lower proportions of being born again. So, either we need to change the way that we’re doing evangelism. We certainly need to increase the number of people and the frequency with which we do evangelism. But the study even found some problems with how it is that we share the gospel and what it is that we share.
Do you think we’re sharing less because we’re less confident in our faith? We’ve kind of let all the attacks start to crack our thinking and maybe the next generation we just haven’t equipped them with apologetics, so they’re certainly not going to share something. They’re not even sure about themselves.
Yeah, when we look at this we typically find that there are three primary reasons why people don’t share. One is, as you’re alluding to, that kind of self-doubt where we’re not real constant in our faith. But the fear factor is even if we do share, we’re afraid that people might reject us, our image might change, our reputation might get damaged.
And then there is the ignorance factor which is, well, even if I knew non-Christians that I had a good enough relationship to share with, I don’t know what to tell them. So, when you put those three things together and then add on top of that that the survey was showing that only 21 percent of Americans firmly believe that they even have a responsibility to do so. And then add to that the fact that our theology has gotten so unBiblical in America that we’re at a place now where larger proportions of people think that you can earn your salvation than believe that it’s simply the gift of God through Christ who died on the cross to redeem us.
And even the idea that there are multiple ways to get to heaven. So, why would I share with you if you might have found a better way? I don’t want to offend your particular way, right–
–that’s part of the thinking.
Seven or Eight Dominant Perspectives on Life After Death
Yes. We’ve got about seven or eight dominant perspectives that people have about what might take place after we die. And among those people who believe that there is something that we go to whether it’s heaven, hell, nirvana, utopia, whatever they may believe.
Yeah, there’s also these different roots. It’s almost like people believe, “Well, I can give you a map and you can choose whatever road you want. It’s going to wind up in a place. So don’t worry about it relax.” It’s a kind of frightening time from a Christian perspective.
It is and how does that — based on your kind of 30,000 feet view of the country, and history, and where these things lead — how does that affect us as a nation? If we’re less evangelistic, if we’re, if there are fewer born again, and we’re getting fewer and fewer every year, doesn’t that have an impact on our politics, on our education, on everything in our country?
People Do What They Believe
It’s huge because the basic component that you have to remember here is that people do what they believe. And so if we don’t believe that the Bible conveys to us absolute moral truth, if we don’t believe that the Bible conveys to us accurate and useful principles for living life, what that does is it says, “Well, it’s all up to me.”
And when it’s all up to me, typically what we do is we turn to our emotions. And so, we get led astray all the time. Or we follow somebody who’s had the last best argument that we heard.
And that could change from day to day. But, we’re living in a culture now that because we’ve abandoned our Biblical foundations, people embrace postmodernism which essentially says, “There is no absolute moral truth. There may or may not be a God, it doesn’t matter, just follow how you feel.”
It’s about experiences, and emotions, and relationships, but not about truth, not about the purpose that God has given to you for life. So, it’s a whole different way of looking at the world.
When you abandon Christ, you abandon more than just a route to salvation. You really abandon an entire way of understanding the meaning, and the purpose, and the way to live life.
Now, George, every time we have you on I always close out our interview with, “What do we do about it?” And you always have fantastic optimism and action steps that we can take. So, you’re on the spot right now because this is serious, serious, negative trends. How do we turn this around? And you have 30 seconds to solve the world’s major problems here. No, go ahead, you can have as much time you want.
There Has to be a Focus on Evangelism
Number one – churches have to get back to recognizing that they are personally in the evangelism business. Churches are not preaching the gospel. When we study what’s being preached, we see that. Secondly, they’ve got to be equipping and celebrating people who do share the gospel faithfully based on Biblical principles.
But the two most important things is, number one, we’ve got to focus on children. Most evangelistic resources are put into reaching adults. They have a very low propensity for accepting the gospel. Most people, the vast majority, two out of three people who accept the gospel, do so before they reach the age of 18. And the study also shows that the people who have the greatest influence on those kids are their parents. And so, parents have to take this responsibility seriously, prepare themselves, keep at it, and we can see this turnaround.
That’s great. Churches have got to realize they’re in the evangelism business, they’ve got to be sharing the Gospel. Two, they’ve got to equip and celebrate those who are doing those things well. Three, we’ve got to focus on children. And parents, that’s number four, man, because we’re losing a lot of them out of families that were believers, right?
I mean, evangelistic fam– evangelical families are seeing their kids walk away from the faith at 19-20 years old.
Our Parenting Generation Doesn’t Have a Biblical Worldview
Very much. And when we look at this generationally, what we see is that there’s a much, much, lower proportion of people who are 18 to 29 years old who’ve accepted the Gospel, who have accepted Christ as their Savior. You can’t give what you don’t have. That’s our parenting generation. They don’t have a Biblical worldview.
They don’t have Christ in their life as their Savior, as their God. They don’t believe the Bible is a reliable guide and source of truth. And so, when you’ve got that mixture, it’s a lethal mixture for the future of America. We’ve got to turn that around.
Man, that makes all these youth programs all the more important – High Point and Patriot Academy, and Summit. And just any opportunity to get those young people at those critical ages where they’re really cementing that worldview in an environment where they can get the apologetics, and get the truth behind the gospel.
So, brother, we appreciate the heads up. Website is fantastic, by the way, CultureFaith.com, folks, you’ve got to go on there. And when you do, get on the e-mail list because George has always got new information coming out and it’s a great way to stay informed and equipped. George Barna, appreciate you, brother, have a great one and Merry Christmas.
God bless you. Same to you, my friend.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
We Want To Hear Your Vet Story
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One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.
You have friends and family that also served. If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected] Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!
We’re Losing it at Home
Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Back with David and Tim Barton now. Thanks to George Barna for joining us as well. David, Tim, in some ways what he’s saying — and not just concerning, greatly concerning. How do we change it though? What can we do to get people to realize how important it is to teach at home, first of all? Because sounds like we’re losing it at home. Not just not sharing the gospel with that stranger, we’re not teaching the Gospel to our kids.
Yeah. One of the things that he pointed out is where you — somebody embraces or rejects Christianity first and foremost is certainly in their infancy, in their teen years, in the home. And if you didn’t learn of your childhood about faith, about Christianity, if that was not modeled for you. Which this is one of the things that I think a lot of what we are seeing in culture is it’s not that parents are anti-Christian, it’s that they’re not promoting those faith values for their kids. And so they show that’s really not that important, “Hey, you know what, we’re tired, we’re not really going to go to church.
It’s fine, let’s have a family day, let’s sleep in, let’s watch football, let’s do something different.” And because they don’t prioritize faith, what’s communicated to their kids is, faith is not something we need to prioritize. It’s not really that significant, it’s not invaluable. It’s not that I’m anti-God, it’s just that I don’t really need — And so, we’ve devalued faith. But if we don’t help instill that in our kids, if we don’t instill the next generation, then we will never see things change or be different.
Those Young Years are so Important to Reach Kids
So, it has to start at home. And this is certainly something that, for every listener right now, whether you are a parent, or a grandparent, or you know what, maybe you’re not a parent yet, but you have friends and they are parents.
We need to be using our influence wherever we can knowing that it really, if you did not dedicate your life to Christ as a young person, the odds that you do that as an adult and are, in fact, true sold-out believer becomes so minuscule. So, those young years are so important to reach kids. We need to start making sure we are investing time, effort, energy.
And if we’re just a family listening, saying, “You know what, I’m going to start making sure my kids go to church. Not because every time I go to church I go, ‘Man, this is awesome.’” We talk about on this show a lot how a lot of pastors don’t teach relevant information from the Bible, practical life. There’s a lot of churches that, you know what, maybe your — the church you’ve gone to hasn’t been great and you’re going, “This is the reason I don’t enjoy church.”
You going to church is bigger than just what you get out of it. You are communicating a value system to your kids or to your grandkids. And this is where we have to start thinking how can I emphasize this. When you’re at home and, you know what, “I don’t read my Bible in front of the family it’s a quiet time and I do not…” — no, no, no, I’m going to make sure I’m going to sit in front of a family. I’m going to open the Bible and I’m going to read it where my family watches me reading the Bible.
Because I’m teaching them the priority of Christianity, the priority of the Bible, the priority of faith. And this is where I think the challenge needs to be is what can we do to help model the priority of faith?
The Most Biblically Illiterate Nation in American History
And another aspect of what George is talking about is the fact that we now have the most Biblically illiterate nation in American history. We’ve never been this Biblically literate. People do not know average stories out of the Bible, they don’t know the name like Sampson, they can’t tell you the story. We talk to presidents of Christian universities who tell us that when kids get there from Youth Group, they don’t know the difference between Jonah and Moses. So, this is Biblically illiterate.
So, let me just — let me lay some foundation down because every Christian needs to understand something and every person has to understand something. We had George on a few weeks ago and he pointed out that 70 percent of Christians believe that you can get to heaven other than through Jesus Christ. Now that is absolutely impossible – you cannot do that. Jesus himself says, “No one comes to the father except through Me.” What you do good, anything else, the only way to get to heaven is through Jesus.
Now George pointed out that only 31 percent of the nation is now born again. Here’s a real problem. Jesus in John 3:3 says, “I tell you the truth, no one will see the kingdom of heaven unless they are born again.” So, born again is not an evangelical terminology that we came up with from Billy Graham back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. This is Jesus language.
As Christians, We Have a Responsibility to do More Than Just Be Born Again
Jesus said, “If you’re not born again, you’re not going to heaven. Period. And by the way, you’re not going to heaven unless you go through Me.” And so that’s real simple. Anybody who thinks that I don’t have to be born again, I’m going to get to heaven.
That’s an impossibility. Jesus set the standard on that. In the same way, we have a responsibility as Christians to do more than just be born again. And we have to go tell others about what Jesus Christ has done for us. We were talking about, at the beginning, how that you need to be able to replace yourself with someone else.
And that’s why you have kids is two of you will leave the world, husband and wife, you kids, leave behind at least two or more. Jesus, in talking to people in His ministry, here’s a great quote out of Luke 8 He says, “Return home and tell others how much God has done for you.”
So, the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. Now that’s what we’re supposed to be doing is sharing with others what Jesus has done for us. In Matthew 10, Jesus says very simply, “If you do not stand up for Me in front of other people, I will not stand up for you in front of My Father in heaven.
Whoever disowns Me before men, I’ll disown before My Father in heaven.” This is important stuff.
“Go and Make Disciples”
This is so important not just because of mathematics, right. It’s not just because we need to replicate, we need to replace ourselves, we need to duplicate. No, no, no, beyond math, this is something that we have been called as individuals to share the good news, to share the gospel. But, Jesus didn’t just say, “Tell people about Me.” He said, “Go and make disciples.” Which, now means we need to be imparting Biblical truth and Biblical reality. And so, no, you don’t —
But, that presupposes that, before you can impart it.
Well, and that definitely means you need to study your word, you need to be reading the Bible, you need to know what Biblical truth is. But, as we know it we’re supposed to share that. So, no, you don’t earn salvation – it’s a free gift of God. But now that we are saved, we want to live as sanctified, holy unto the Lord. We’re set apart. We do things differently.
Old’s passed away. All things become new. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. There’s so much that goes with this. But, one of the things that I think is so common for us as believers is we feel like we’ve done our job if we invite someone to church, right?
Like, this is where I’ve really done it, I’ve done a great job as a Christian because I invited my — it was awkward, but I invited my co-worker, I invited my friend, the guys I play sports with, softball — it was weird, but I said, “Hey, you want to come to church with me?” And so I really took a step of faith. I stepped out there and I invited them to church. And we feel as if that kind of pacifies the need or command from the Lord to to reach out to others.
God Didn’t Say “Bring People to Your Pastor”
Instead of going, “Wait a second, no, no, no, that’s not what God told us.” God didn’t say, “Bring people to your pastor so your pastor can tell them about Me.” God said that we’re supposed to be the ones to go and make disciples. We’re supposed to share what God has done for us and not point to our pastor. Which, I feel like is what’s really happening in a lot of Christianity.
Yeah, I was thinking about that earlier in the sense that, if I get a scrape on my leg or something working out at the ranch, who knows bodies better than orthopedic surgeons? So, I can go to an orthopedic surgeon, show I’m scraping my leg, and he can take care of it and bandage it up. Or I can just go in the bathroom, get a band-aid, put some Neosporin on it and fix it myself. And we keep deferring to others the things that we’re capable of doing ourselves. And Jesus has made us very capable of sharing our faith with others, bringing others to Him.
His own disciples went out and brought other people back to Jesus. We don’t have to have a professional expert to go share the faith. Each one of us needs to do that and Jesus tells each one of us do that.
And certainly, if this is something you’re listening and going, “You know what, guys, I’m on board. I would love to do that, but I didn’t really know how.” Go to YouTube, look up Ray Comfort–
Let’s Evangelise to Turn The Tide For Born Again Believers In America
That’s what I was thinking! Good call.
–and just watch a few of Ray Comfort’s videos because it’s not as hard as our mind makes it. It’s very practical, it’s very easy. Ray Comfort on YouTube will be your best tutor and mentor for this, but we have an obligation to start sharing our faith.
Thanks to George Barna for joining us today. We sure appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.