This year, here at the start of a new decade—the 2020 decade!—Barna Group is returning to one of its foundational projects: the State of the Church. In this pivotal moment, our aim is to help Christian leaders gain a realistic-and-hopeful context and discern a faithful direction forward in our chaotic, disruptive culture. Or, as we’ll say a lot this year: to see clearly, lead confidently and engage effectively.
In light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which takes places annually on the third Monday of January, we wanted to take a closer look at some key findings from the Where Do We Go from Here? report. One goal of this study was to identify some social causes that practicing Christians feel the Church at large or individual Christians are called to address—in other words, some key areas in which faith requires people to be hands-on ministers of mercy. Among examples of groups that could be considered in need of relief, Barna included people who face discrimination.
In his 2011 book You Lost Me, Barna president David Kinnaman identified three trends shaping our culture: access (which, thanks to WiFi everywhere, is exponentially more amplified today), alienation (from institutions and traditions that give structure and meaning to our lives) and authority (which, like institutions and traditions, is increasingly viewed with suspicion). In the years since that book released, Kinnaman and the Barna team have adopted a phrase to describe our accelerated, complex culture that’s marked by unlimited access, profound alienation and a crisis of authority: digital Babylon.