A veteran cultural researcher who has spent decades examining biblical worldview and the trajectory of the American church believes some alarming statistics should spark concerted action on the part of Christians.
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“Everybody has a worldview,” Barna told CBN Digital. “It’s basically the intellectual, moral, spiritual filter that each of us uses to make every decision that we make.”
This essential ingredient, he said, renders decision-making possible. Bible believers who operate through the lens of a Christian worldview are thus going “back to basic biblical principles, trying to understand what’s God’s perspective.”
This makes Bible engagement and discipleship essential, as they comprise the baseline through which people build a Christian worldview.
“That’s why it’s important for Christians to know the Scriptures, so that, as we make those decisions, we’re consistent with what God’s calling us to do, and to be, and how to live,” Barna said.
Through that study and understanding, people can shape a God-honoring worldview — a subject the researcher tackles in his latest book, “Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul.”
“It’s not just about attending church,” Barna said. “It’s not just about owning and reading a Bible. It’s about wanting to be as Christlike as possible.”
Watch Barna explain:
And with statistics showing just 2% of American parents of preteens have a biblical worldview, Barna is sounding some alarms that must be heeded.
“The reason that we have so few parents with a biblical worldview is that they were never really discipled when they were young,” he said. “When you get several consecutive generations where the number of discipled young people has been dropping precipitously as has happened in America over the last 40 years, that’s when you get the situation that we’ve got today, where more and more adults are convinced it doesn’t matter what faith you believe, as long as you have some faith.”
Many people today have traded Gospel living for a paradigm under which they can simply be a “good person.” He said this is something two-thirds of Americans have come to believe — and the consequences for the culture are profound.
“It’s these kinds of secularized perspectives where we’ve sanded the edges off Christian truth to make it more palatable and more comfortable,” Barna said. “And then we buy into those philosophies, and then those kind of work their way into secular humanism, and postmodernism, and Marxism, Eastern mysticism, all the other beliefs, because we bought into this idea it really doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you really believe it; that’s your truth, and that’s all that matters.”
But Barna said parents have a “God-given responsibility” to raise kids to love and know the Lord “with all their heart, strength, and soul.” He said this quest is each Christian parent’s central role in life.
While some parents might wait until their children are older to help frame their worldview, Barna said the process is solidified much earlier than many might expect.
“You start making decisions at 15 to 18 months of age,” he said. “That’s when your worldview begins to form and, by the age of 13, you’ve typically confronted all the major questions in life — ‘Who am I? Why am I here? What is life about? What does success look like? You know, all of these kinds of issues and more. And so, by age 13, you’ve developed a full worldview.”
Tragically, he said, most young people today are developing worldviews contrary to or devoid of biblical truth. For Christians looking to instill a biblical worldview in their children, Barna said a spiritual worldview plan is essential, yet few professing believers have developed one for their kids.
“I think it’s kind of embarrassing, because, when you look at parents, what we find is that most of them have a plan for their kids,” he said. “They want them to do well in school, they want them to be healthy, they want them to develop good friends — they’ve got all these different ideas about what’s going to help their child to succeed.”
Yet Barna said these ideas often have nothing to do with faith, with his research finding that less than 10% of born-again Christian parents have “any kind of spiritual development plan for their kids.”
Barna hopes “Raising Spiritual Champions” helps parents get on track and realize it’s not hard to inspire a love for the Lord in their children.
“You don’t have to have everything figured out,” Barna said. “You don’t have to be perfect in terms of your worldview, but you got to perfectly be committed to working at it and to then modeling everything that you’re learning for your kids.”
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