Christianity Not a Default

March 5, 2009 by

Christianity is no longer the default faith for Americans, according to half the population. And apparently Christians are leading the charge in that belief.

A Barna survey released back in January revealed that 50% of Americans agreed that “Christianity is no longer the faith that Americans automatically accept as their personal faith.” While that doesn’t really surprise me, what is surprising is that 64% of evangelical Christians agreed with that statement, more than any other group.

So Christianity is no longer a default. I don’t think that has to be a bad thing. What’s encouraging about this survey is the 74% of people who say their faith is becoming a more important source of moral guidance. Fewer people are defaulting to Christianity, but people are taking their faith more seriously. That’s a good thing.

This should serve as another reminder to the church that we can’t assume a cultural advantage and relax our efforts to spread the gospel.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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9 Responses to “Christianity Not a Default”

  • Brian
    March 5, 2009

    I believe that this post presents us with a wake-up call and challenge!
    If churches were counting on people who automatically accepted or defaulted into the faith to become disciples for Christ, we were in more trouble than I suspected. Maybe we should take the position of Avis, the #2 car rental company (behind Hertz). Avis tries harder. So should we. It’s time to take our church marketing and communication plans off of cruise control.
    In the Great Commission, Christ tells us to “Go”. Yet we live out the charge as if He said “Wait”. Let’s get to work.

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  • Michael Buckingham
    March 5, 2009

    I don’t want a bunch of people to call themselves christian because that’s the default…I want people to believe in Christ because they believe, I want them to make him lord because he is God.
    A lot of people are tired of Christianity and church…we’re known in too many circles by the things we hate and not the love we show.
    I want it to be less about Christianity as a religion and about Christianity as a mark that I follow Christ.

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  • Dawn
    March 5, 2009

    What IS the default religion now? Or is there no “majority” default anymore?
    Interesting post/observation/feedback! :)
    Love the site, need to visit more.

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  • Lindsey
    March 5, 2009

    I would be nice to think that this is the main reason we as a Church get lazy about outreach but I am afraid there is usually more involved. Laziness, self centeredness, and we dont even realize it. Just about all of us have been guilty at one time or another.

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  • Michael Buckingham
    March 5, 2009

    Dawn I think the default now is ME + I.
    What’s good for ME.
    What makes ME happy.
    What I choose.
    How I want to live.
    We now make our own rules in the name of freedom and tolerance.
    And that’s true for those in and out of the church.

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  • Phil
    March 6, 2009

    Yeah, I’m with Michael on this. I can’t think of anything worse than people being default believers in anything. If you haven’t taken the step of working out why you believe what you believe than you’re just like sheep following the crowd, and we all know what Jesus had to say about sheep*.
    *This comment was in no way intended as a judgement upon sheep. I like sheep and feel that sheep’s wool has made a great contribution to society.

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  • stacy
    March 6, 2009

    There was a 20th century philosopher who said something to the effect of: you can’t be Christian in a Christian state. (I’m totally blanking on who it was.) He thought to be truly Christian, you need to constantly ask yourself “What do I believe?” or “Do these core principals still describe who I am spiritually?”
    I always liked this concept. For a long time I used to carry an index card in my purse that contained my core beliefs. It was stained, dirty, ripped and had a couple of items that were constantly being crossed off and then added again a couple days later.

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  • eekee
    March 6, 2009

    It doesn’t surprise me that evangelicals think that way, although I can’t entirely explain why. Certainly for my parents believing the world was in a worse state than it actually is was something that reinforced their faith considerably.
    My best shot at a more objective answer is this: Evangelism is a hard thing to do. Believing that your work is more important than ever helps a lot.
    Also a small technical error with comment preview: I could not see any entry field for the anti-spam mechanism. I had to ctrl-c my text & use the browser back button to get here.

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  • ReligionSucks
    September 23, 2010

    We’re not Christians because we’re not stupid. Those people push their garbage onto our society and we’re sick of it. Jesus = Horus, Mary = Hathor… Study your history people. As intelligence increases, more people will turn away from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism. We don’t need slave minded people preaching fairy tales anymore, we just need sound knowledge. This overbearing evangelical fodder becomes really overwhelming. Look, it’s over. People need to reinvest in their original culture, their own minds, and stop believing in misogynistic lies. I don’t need my child kneeling to some some horrid depiction of a man being brutalized on a cross, that’s disgusting! Seek real truth! The church version is a lie in disguise! God is not a father figure. Please, let’s help the former Christians get over this age old lie! Much love to all. Forgive my aggression, but we have to fight the ignorance for our children’s sake.

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