Millions of uncommitted Christians are causing a "catastrophic decline in biblical worldview in America" because they have been poorly discipled in their faith and often don't know how to pass on biblical values to their children, research in a new book from veteran Christian researcher George Barna shows.
Barna's new book, Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child's Heart, Mind and Soul, was released on Sept. 5 and is currently ranked No. 1 among Amazon's newly released books on family health.
Research from the book comes from seven original studies conducted as part of a collaborative effort between the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University and the Family Research Council. The studies examine the ability of parents to "intentionally and strategically raise spiritual champions among the nation's children."
According to the book, many Christians feel so ill-equipped in their ability as parents that they have been swept up in a growing trend of "outsourcing their responsibilities."
"During the research, parents often shared doubts about their own parenting ability, even expressing that although they are doing the best they can, they don't feel that they are very good parents," Barna, the director of research at the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, explains in a summary of the research highlighted in the book.
"But because they love their children and want them to have the best experiences and outcomes, parents look to find people who they believe can do the job in various dimensions of their child's lives."
He wrote that parents look for the best teachers, coaches and other experts who can "give their children the training they believe they need to succeed."
"As a result, parents have stepped back and handed over the worldview development process to experts, who may or may not share their worldview and values," Barna stated.
The Evangelical pollster added, "our worldview is the decision-making filter that informs every decision we make — intellectual, moral, emotional, and spiritual." To have a biblical worldview, he says, "is to think like Jesus, so that you can act like Jesus."
Despite Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Proverbs 2:1-13, 22:6 23:13; 29: 17, 2 Corinthians 12:14, and Ephesians 6:4 showing that parents are the ones who are charged with the primary responsibility of their children's spiritual development and discipleship, fewer than 10% of parents today have invested in any kind of spiritual development plan for their children.
Most of them were also found incapable of passing on a biblical worldview to their children because most don't have one.
Just 2% of parents with children under 13 were found to have a biblical worldview, while 94% had embraced syncretism, described as a "hodge-podge mixture of competing and often conflicting worldviews."
The book's data shows that just 22% of parents of preteens in America are born-again Christians, and only 8% of them hold a biblical worldview.
While 58% of born-again Christian parents accept that they have the primary responsibility for the spiritual development of their children, 23% of them leave that job up to churches "research shows are increasingly unreliable sources of biblical worldview training," Barna stated.
"Most parents, even born-again parents, do not really think the spiritual component of their child's life is a big deal — at least not as big a deal as doing well in school, sports, or relationships. And even if they are focused on building their child's biblical worldview, very few parents today — only 2% — possess a biblical worldview," Barna noted. "They can't give what they don't have — and this creates a gaping spiritual vacuum as today's parents are raising their children."
The research shows that just 36% of 13 and 14-year-olds believe that God exists and is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe, while only 1% of preteen children possess a biblical worldview.
"A majority of the youngest teens (61%) either believe Jesus Christ sinned while He was on Earth or hold open the possibility He did," Barna notes. "Not even half (45%) believe that God created the universe. And an overwhelming majority believe that there are no absolute, objective truths."
Barna encouraged parents who want to develop a biblical worldview in their children to first "understand that this is their primary task in life — to raise their children know, love, and serve God with all their heart, mind, and soul. No other life task is more important."
He noted that because an individual's worldview is largely in place by the age of 13, parents should invest in discipling their children during their early years by making a life-defining commitment to Jesus and converting biblical belief into action, among other recommendations.
"Using this foundation, any child can build a purposeful and influential life that glorifies God," Barna said of the recommendations he makes in his book. "Starting with these simple and basic biblical tenets empowers a child to construct a spiritual base that is scripturally solid, leading to life choices that are not only consistent and defensible but also fulfilling and comforting."