Study Finds American Christians Are Split on How Visible Their Faith Is to Others

Spiritual topics aren’t a part of regular conversations with fellow believers for many Protestant churchgoers, but most seem at least somewhat confident others know they’re a Christian.

The 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment study from LifeWay Research found those who regularly attend Protestant churches are split on how visible and pervasive their faith is in daily life.

The study identifies living an unashamed life as one of eight signposts that consistently show up in the lives of growing Christians.

“In an increasingly secular culture, fewer people assume you are a Christian,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, based in Nashville. “Disciples now must decide if their identity in Christ is important enough to them to bring up in conversations.”

Spiritual conversations

Overall, 39 percent of Protestant churchgoers disagree with the statement: “Spiritual matters do not tend to come up as a normal part of my daily conversations with other Christians”; 35 percent agree and 26 percent aren’t sure.

Fifteen percent strongly assert that matters of faith are a part of their regular conversations with fellow believers.

Females (17 percent) are more likely than males (11 percent) to strongly indicate regularly having such conversations, and Hispanics (19 percent) and African Americans (18 percent) are more likely than whites (13 percent) to strongly affirm that matters of faith come up in their daily conversations with other Christians.

Evangelical Protestants (17 percent) and black Protestants (15 percent) also are more likely than mainline Protestants (7 percent) to have such daily conversations.

The youngest adult churchgoers (18-34) are least likely to strongly indicate spiritual matters are topics of daily conversations with other Christians (9 percent).

“It is striking that so many Protestant churchgoers don’t talk to each other about the very thing that is supposed to unite them,” McConnell said. “And the younger generation either did not observe it growing up or it was not done in a way they want to emulate.”

Visible faith

Most Protestant churchgoers say others know they are Christians, but fewer are very confident in that perception.

Nearly two-thirds of Christians (62 percent) disagree with the statement: “Many people who know me are not aware I am a Christian” (with 36 percent of those strongly disagreeing). Overall, 20 percent agree and 18 percent neither agree nor disagree.

Women are more confident that others know of their faith, with more than 2 in 5 females (42 percent) strongly affirming that perception compared to 27 percent of males.

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Source: Baptist Press