The desire for spiritual growth among Christians is not translating into significant commitment to practices facilitating this development, according to a Barna Group survey.
A strong majority (77 percent) of Christians said it is “very important to see growth in their spiritual life,” but the commitment to discipleship practices – such as regular church attendance and group Bible study – remains minimal.
The Barna survey asked respondents to indicate which discipleship practices they deemed “somewhat important” to their spiritual growth.
Among practicing Christians (people who attend congregational worship at least once a month), 43 percent said they attend a form of Sunday school, 33 percent study the Bible with a group, 25 percent read and discuss Christian books in groups and 17 percent have a spiritual mentor.
The numbers among nonpracticing Christians (people who self-identity as Christian but rarely attend congregational worship) were significantly lower – Sunday school (8 percent), group Bible study (6 percent), Christian book discussion (6 percent) and spiritual mentor (7 percent).
Overall, only 20 percent of all Christians are involved in any form of discipleship activity.
The survey also revealed that the preferred discipleship method of 38 percent of respondents was “on my own.”
By comparison, 25 percent designated “with a group” and 16 percent “one-on-one,” while the remaining 21 percent preferred a mix of these approaches.
Forty-one percent of respondents said their faith was “entirely private,” while 37 percent believed their faith impacted their relatives, 36 percent their friends and 33 percent their community.
“One of the problems revealed by this research is that millions of Christians believe that discipleship is a solo affair, with only personal and private implications,” Barna noted.
The full report is available here.