Is America a Christian nation? Ever since Alexis de Tocqueville penned his famed Democracy in America, many authors have attempted to answer that question. The question of a Christian America certainly deserves our serious thought. Contemporary scholars like Martin Marty, Mark Noll, and George Marsden have helped shape our understanding of the complex history of Christianity in America.
While reading American history has its place, if you are looking for real-time statistics on the religious thought of America, I think you will like a book written by George Barna called American Worldview Inventory 2020-2021: The Annual Report on the State of Worldview in the United States. It is filled with fascinating statistics and can serve as a valuable resource for pastors, parents, Bible study leaders, youth ministers, and serious-minded Christians.
George Barna is the founder of the Barna Group and currently serves as the scholar-in-residence for the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. He has studied the intersection of faith and culture since 1984 and has authored many books. His American Worldview Inventory 2020-2021 is based upon a nationally representative sample of the entire country. Surveys and interviews were given to 2,000 adult participants, with an estimated maximum sampling error of approximately plus or minus two percentage points, based on the 95% confidence interval.
I find Barna’s (2021) tripartite description of the American adult population very helpful.
- Integrated Disciples 6%.
- Emergent Followers 19%/
- World Citizens 75% (p.102)/
Integrated Disciples are those “who possess a biblical worldview and demonstrate a consistent understanding and application of biblical principles.” Because producing devoted Christians should be a major goal of our families, churches, and Christian educational institutions, we must create a strategy to increase the number of Integrated Disciples.
Barna advocates teaching Emergent Followers to become Integrated Disciples. By focusing on the Emergent Followers in our spheres of influence, we can strategically aim to increase their understanding and application of the Bible in their lives. A plan to disciple Emergent Followers would include teaching five domains of knowledge.
- Human nature, human character.
- The Bible, truth, and morality.
- God, creation, and history.
- Family and the value of life.
- Purpose and calling (pp. 103-12).
In summary, George Barna’s American Worldview Inventory 2020-2021: The Annual Report on the State of Worldview in the United States contains dozens of interesting statistics on religious beliefs and moral issues. While the author’s strategies to reach Integrated Disciples, Emergent Followers, and World Citizens are helpful, the real surprise of the book is the discovery that alarmingly few Americans have a biblically integrated worldview. The book’s most practical aspect is the emphasis on teaching Emergent Followers to become Integrated Disciples.
That plan aligns with the Great Commission given in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus Christ told His followers to “make disciples of all nations” by teaching them all He has commanded. May we be about that work. He has promised to be with us always until the very end.
Adam Rasmussen is the Associate Professor of Humanities at Arizona Christian University where he teaches students to flourish under the Lordship of Christ in all of life as they grow in their understanding of faith, reason, and culture within a biblical worldview. His Ph.D. in Educational Studies is from the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.