If I were to ask you what the No. 1 enemy of Christianity in America is, what would you say?
What about if I asked you, “What is the largest, most impenetrable force that threatens the spread of the Gospel throughout the U.S.?”
What would you say?
I suspect that many of you would begin to name larger-than-life entities, such as the media, the government, the economy, terrorists and even Satan.
But you’d be wrong.
In the United States, Christianity’s greatest foes are the complacency and apathy within the Christian community.
A recent survey by veteran researcher George Barna of The Barna Group contains some rather shocking statistics about one of the greatest spiritual cancers currently infecting American believers.
Barna’s latest book, simply entitled The Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter, dissects seven diverse faith segments within the U.S. and seeks to profile their life patterns, belief systems, values, and even goals.
Among the seven tribes are groups such as Casual Christians, Captive Christians, Mormons, Jews, Pantheists, Muslims, and finally, Skeptics.
Out of all of these, the largest group (and therefore the one with the most power and potential for influence) was Casual Christians.
In fact, the survey found that 66 percent of the adult Christian population in the U.S. would be termed as “casual,” meaning they are “middle-of-the-road” and “ambivalent” when it comes to their faith.
Unfortunately, such statistics and research cannot merely be pushed to the wayside and ignored.
As Barna detailed both in his interview and his book, the Casual Christian tribe is the most significant group.
According to Barna, the group “represents a huge majority of the nation’s population-two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is composed of significant proportions of minimally active, born again Christians and moderately active, but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen the tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, or even to simply create a more extensive sense of community and purpose within the tribe, unprecedented change could occur.”
Casual Christians seem to stick to their mindset about the Christian life and walk for several reasons.
First, and perhaps most disturbing, is the comfort factor. They essentially believe that an attitude of complacency will allow them to feel and appear “religious,” while not requiring a great deal of spiritual effort.
The comfort factor also allows them to operate as an average, normal citizen, within their respective roles (i.e. housewife, family man, son, daughter, employee, etc.) and never be forced to argue or defend their spiritual beliefs against the moral standards of society.
Secondly, their sporadic church attendance satisfies their inconsequential need for a sense of belonging and community with fellow believers or other “religious individuals,” while simultaneously projecting the appearance of commitment.
However, they do not view Scriptural truths or matters of faith as crucial to a person’s spiritual walk, nor do they believe they affect their success in life.
One of the many inherent dangers stemming from the current “casual” Christianity predicament, besides the obvious spiritual consequences, has come in the form of internal turmoil and division within churches and the Christian community at large.
Many passionate, active believers (Captive Christians) view “casuals” as being counterfeit and phony when it comes to their faith.
Some have even gone so far as to determine “casuals” to be unfit for church ministry because they may not truly be saved, much less excited about the church’s vision and direction.
You can imagine the outcome that has resulted from such taut debates between church congregates.
In a day and age where Scriptural and spiritual truth is considered insignificant by much of society, there is little room for Christians who refuse to live their faith out loud.
But the heartbreaking truth is this: Casual, apathetic Christianity is plaguing an entire culture of American believers and is spreading through our churches at a speed not unlike a hot virus in a tropical rainforest.
-Josh Givens, the Underground staff writer
Read more original commentary at: www.theundergroundsite.com
Originally posted at: theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2009/06/casual-christianity-syndrome-part-1/