Give the Greatest Gift this Christmas!
Perhaps the greatest gift born again Christians can give at Christmas is to share the same Good News the shepherds did so many centuries ago.
But few Christians are sharing the Gospel, according to a new survey from the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI), and it may be having a negative impact on the number of born again believers as a whole—a trend that is concerning to the American Pastors Network.
The research uncovered two alarming facts. First, just one out of every five adults (21 percent) “strongly affirms a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with people who hold different beliefs than they do.” And second, the proportion of adults who meet the born again criterion has been on a downward trajectory since 2010.
“At a time when Christians should be sharing the Gospel more than ever before, this study is not only discouraging, but the findings also have grave consequences for our culture,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “Indeed, this is also distressing information for the church, and pastors must take up the charge to reverse these trends in our society by committing to preach the whole counsel of God and remain entrenched in the Word.
“If we believe that Christ can transform lives, bring peace in a storm, replace hate with love, and even reconcile the relationship with our enemies, shouldn’t we now more than ever share this Good News?” Rohrer asked. “If we don’t, no one else will.”
ACFI also reported that for the 15-year period from 1991 through 2005, an average of 40 percent of the adult population qualified as born again. That average rose slightly, to 44 percent, during the five years from 2006 to 2010. Since that time, however, the mean has plummeted to just 36 percent, with 2017 producing the lowest proportion of born again adults since well-known social science researcher George Barna began tracking the trends in 1991. The 2017 average indicates that just 31 percent of adults are born again, he wrote.
“This research also tells us that the outlook is not positive for the numbers of born again Christians to grow,” Rohrer added. “Older Americans are more likely to be born again, with the younger population consisting of much smaller numbers of born again Christians. Likewise, these millennial- and Generation X-aged parents will be raising children who will know less and less about confessing their sins to Jesus, asking Christ for forgiveness and looking forward to eternity with the Savior.”
Rohrer added that one way born again Christians can help spread the Gospel this Christmas season is to simply invite another person to a Christmas church service. A 2015 LifeWay Research survey found that six out of 10 Americans typically attend church at Christmastime. Among those who don’t attend at Christmas, a majority (57 percent) say they would likely attend—if someone they knew invited them.
For the research, Barna developed and continues to use a measure for “born again” that evaluates if a person has confessed their personal sin, asked Jesus Christ to save them, and believes they will live eternally in Heaven only because of His grace toward them. Read the full ACFI study here.
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