George Barna released this morning a new study showing that nothing of the spiritual impact of 9/11 on the American people remains five years later. He is a little late in coming to this conclusion. I wrote a report one year after 9/11 which showed that the upsurge in religious behavior and spiritual interest which occurred in the immediate aftermath of the tragic event had disappeared from the various indicators in a range of polls and surveys. Barna looked at 19 indicators in nine surveys his team conducted with samples totaling more than 8,000. The studies I consulted four years ago totaled an even larger sampling.
What does this mean? A lot of things were said in passion during the fall and early winter of 2001. "Postmodernism is over ... an American revival is underway ... things have changed forever." That's all nonsense and some of us said so at the time, but Christian leaders didn't want to listen. Western civilization approaches one billion people. Nothing turns around attitudes in such a large pool on a dime. We have to get real about what it takes to influence such a massive organism. That includes at least two things that it seems that Christendom, and American Christians in particular, have a hard time coming up with: (A) A long attention span. (B) A serious investment; at least the majority of our total giving. In fact, most Christian congregations and ministries sustain very few efforts longer than a few years and seem to prefer one weekend. And according to the Ronsvalle's research, Christians spend 98% of what they give on themselves; no more than 2% on impacting the world.
Click here to see the new Barna report. My report from four years ago is available on the Center for Creative Ministry web site. You can see the Ronsvalle's ongoing analysis of giving to and spending by Christian churches and ministries at the Empty Tomb web site.