The Barna Group has been the prominent source for research on Christianity in America. Their new series, “FRAMES,” is geared toward providing more information in less space; requiring less reading. The nine-book set speaks on issues such as violence, the church, education, multi-careering, women, adoption and much more.
I read Sacred Roots: Why the Church Still Matters. It was a very quick read (90 pages, including notes) that addresses problems that the church is currently facing in America. Barna surveyed 1,086 people on questions such as:
- What do you think of church?
- What’s made your faith grow?
- What would make you leave your church? (among many others…)
Here’s a preview of the FRAME: Sacred Roots
The results were results were quite telling of our post-modern society. 51% of NYC is “Post Christian.” 59% of Millennials who grew up in the church have left at some point. And 43% of people who attend church say it is because they want “to be closer to God.”
It’s not inherently wrong to want to be closer to God, nor is it a bad thing to like the style of preaching or music at a certain church. But when the body of Jesus becomes more about personal entertainment or about the individual tastes then the church suffers. Only 11% of Millennials said that the church acts as “God’s hands and feet to the world.”
So what is the church, and why is it important? Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). If Jesus’ disciples are doing what he says, then they are loving one another, and in turn, the world around them. The author of the FRAME, Sacred Roots, Jon Tyson, marks four key points for the church to posture itself in America as God’s agent of action and justice.
- From Dabbling to Devotion (Moving from mouth service to daily faithfulness)
- From Transience to Permanence (Moving from church shopping to commitment)
- From Preference to Proximity (Moving from my wants to local needs)
- And, From Belief to Practices (Moving from internal ideas to external practice)
Within these four ideas are practical applications from Tyson’s experience planting in New York City. He and his friends sold their possessions, paid off one another’s debts, and left to follow God’s calling. Through years of hard work, and a few missteps turned into learning experiences, they have raised a flourishing and dynamic ministry in one of the least churched cities of the world.
The FRAMES series is certainly a fun way to read about the direction our culture is headed regarding issues of faith and religion. Info-graphics bring the research to life in visually engaging ways. Great for use in small group or personal study, each book can be consumed in just over an hour. After reading one I’m quite likely to blast through the others as well because they are great tools for learning about Christianity’s current trends in America.