The majority of Protestant churchgoers believe they can walk with God without other believers — yet also say they need other believers to help them in that walk, a new study has found, highlighting the lack of discipleship in today’s churches.
A LifeWay Research survey sponsored by the Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary found that the majority of those who attend U.S. Protestant or nondenominational churches at least monthly agree with the two contradictory sentiments.
Three in four Protestant churchgoers (75 percent) say they need other believers to help them to grow in their walk with God, with 38 percent strongly agreeing. However, 65 percent of Protestant churchgoers say they can walk with God without other believers, with 36 percent agreeing strongly.
Kenneth Priest, interim director of the Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern, said those two statements contradict one another and highlight the need for greater discipleship in churches.
“I believe this is primarily a discipleship issue,” Priest said, explaining that the “spiritual apathy” seen in many churches is due to “the lack of pastors and spiritual leaders equipped to effectively preach and teach a text-driven life application of God’s Word.”
As a result, many churchgoers fail to see the church as a crucial part of their spiritual formation.
“The ‘needing, yet not needing’ responses demonstrate an internal turmoil of individuals desiring community, but not seeing the church as the place to have those needs met,” he said. “Solo Christianity is an inward desire to seek after spiritual matters without the realization biblical community is what will fulfill the desire they are seeking.”
Interestingly, the survey of 2,500 Protestant churchgoers conducted Jan. 14–29 found that specific groups are more likely to say they need other believers to help them grow in their walk with God than others.
Those attending church in the South (41 percent) are more likely to strongly agree than those attending in other parts of the country; younger churchgoers, those 18 to 34 (41 percent) and those 35 to 49 (40 percent), are more likely to strongly agree than older churchgoers; and evangelical Protestants (42 percent) and black Protestants (37 percent) are more likely to strongly agree than mainline Protestants (28 percent).
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett