*A new study shows that 100% of Barna statistics are skewed to lend credibility to his anti-church bias.
I had a friend the other day quote me a Barna statistic. My response was the above sentence. I am not doubting that we can gain some benefit from Barna research and that some of it is actually legit and could be helpful. However, I have become very leery of accepting anything that Barna throws at us. First, because some of his findings have been shown to be off. Secondly, because from what I have read of Barna he seems to be promoting a churchless Christianity.
As Frank Turk has pointed out, there are a few secular studies—especially this one from The Wall Street Journal—that pulls the rug out from under Barna’s research. Reputable statisticians from Baylor have shown that young people are not leaving the church in droves as Barna has reported and there is not statistical evidence that women are fleeing the church like lemurs on holiday.
Further evidence is found in a book written by Bradley Wright entitled Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media. Wright shows how many of the scare pollsters (like Barna) have bad numbers. It seems that when those that are actually “born-again”, instead of those just claiming to be, are polled the numbers change dramatically.
So why the bad numbers? Think about this for a moment.
How many times have you read a Barna quote and came away thinking, “wow, the Lord really is working and moving and building His church as He said He would”? More often than not what you’ve came away from a Barna statistic thinking is, “This is NOT working! Something needs to change in the church because it is obvious that we are not reaching people as we ought to be. The church does not seem to be working the way it ought to”.
Driven by Bad Theology?
When he quick jabs you with a shocking statistic and puts you on the ropes, dizzy and wondering why the church of Christ isn’t “working” as it ought to, then he comes thundering with an uppercut.
The church isn’t working you say? Well, that’s because we are not doing church correctly. If you read your New Testament you will find that churches are meant to be organic and not institutional. They are meant to be led by the Spirit and not held together by human institutions and programs.
Read his book Pagan Christianity (or at least peruse Tim Challies review of it) and you will see what it is that Barna is promoting. So I’m left to conclude as I began this little article, “A new study shows that 100% of Barna statistics are skewed to lend credibility to his anti-church bias”.
So, when you read and quote Barna just be aware of this. I am not saying we ought to trash every bit of his work. Or even that he does not have some good things to say. But keep your eyes open and know that there is a bias there that seems to drive a good amount of his research.
*Okay, I’ll admit it, that statistic may be a little high. But I read somewhere that 67% of statistics are made up anyways and so I figured why not shoot for the stars. Also I should mention that the new study that was conducted was only in my mind—but I think it still may have some credibility.