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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Study: Evangelicals Lives Substantially Influenced by Faith



Reprinted by permission of The Christian Post


By Audrey Barrick
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Jul. 22 2008 11:22 AM EDT


Most Christians, notional and evangelical alike, desire a personal relationship with God, a new study showed. But evangelicals were the only Christian segment that desired much more in their faith life.

At least 90 percent of Evangelicals, who make up 8 percent of the population, according to The Barna Group, said they wanted a clear purpose for living, one marriage partner for life, good physical health, to live with a high degree of integrity, and to be deeply committed to the Christian faith along with having a personal relationship with God. They were the only group among the dozen Christian segments surveyed by the research group among which at least 90 percent listed as many as six of the 19 future-life possibilities as being "very desirable."

"Evangelicals are intensely driven by their faith: their life is substantially influenced by their beliefs and their lifestyle choices and aspirations reflect the centrality of their spirituality," said George Barna, who directed the study.

Most evangelicals, 84 percent, also said that being personally active in a church was "very desirable" and 75 percent said they desired a life in which they make a difference in the world.

The only thing "very desirable" to at least 90 percent of born-again Christians who are not evangelical in their theological views was a personal relationship with God - listed by 94 percent. Still, 87 percent of born-again Christians said they desire a clear purpose for their life, 86 percent said they desire being deeply committed to the Christian faith, and 68 percent said they want to be personally active in a church.

"Non-evangelical born again adults consider faith to be important but it is not the defining aspect of their existence; it is influential but not the determining factor," said George Barna, who directed the study.

Meanwhile, only 65 percent of notional Christians - who define themselves as Christians but are not born again - said a close personal relationship with God is very desirable. Their biggest desire is to live with a high degree of integrity, listed by 81 percent. Seventy-five percent of notional Christians said they desire one marriage partner for life, 72 percent said they want a clear purpose for life, and 54 percent they desire making a difference in the world.

The only thing they deemed more highly desirable than did the evangelical and born-again segments was owning the latest household technology and equipment, the survey showed.

"Notional Christians treat faith as just one of many dimensions of their life that serves a purpose, but it is not a driving force at all," Barna noted.

Nationally, 59 percent desire being deeply committed to the Christian faith, 56 percent want a life in which they make a difference in the world and 45 percent want to be personally active in a church.

Christians were less likely to desire fame or recognition or a comfortable life compared to the national average. Only 43 percent of evangelicals said they want a comfortable lifestyle compared to a national average of 70 percent.

However, like most in the various Christian segments, Americans overall want a clear purpose for their life, as indicated by the 77 percent national average.

The survey further showed that atheists and agnostics have different goals in life. Among them, 55 percent said they desire to have a clear purpose in life, 58 percent want one marriage partner for life (compared to 80 percent nationally), and 45 percent desire having close relationships and making a difference in the world (compared to 56 percent nationally).

"Skeptics have replaced faith with a passion for healthy longevity and personal pleasure gained through world travel, sexual experiences, and obtaining knowledge," Barna commented. "They are substantially less focused on relationships and legacy than are other groups. They tend to be less concerned about finding or pursuing a purpose in life because a majority of them believe life has no purpose beyond comfort and pleasure."

The survey is based on telephone interviews conducted in May 2008 on a random sample of 1,003 adults age 18 and older.

Copyright 2008 The Christian Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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