Glossary of Barna's Theolographics & Demographics


When Barna conducts and reports on research, we use terms and phrases to describe generations, socio-economic groups, or faith segments; to measure behaviors like church engagement; or to classify individuals or groups according to religious beliefs and behaviors. To help you navigate these terms, here’s a comprehensive list of the definitions we use:

Generations:

  • Millennials: Born between 1984 and 2002
  • Busters/Gen-Xers: Born between 1965 and 1983
  • Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964
  • Elders: Born between 1945 or earlier

Faith Segments:

  • Born again: Have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and believe that, when they die, they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
  • Evangelical Christian: Meet the born again criteria plus seven other conditions. These conditions include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent upon church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church attended. Respondents were not asked to describe themselves as “evangelical.”
  • Non-evangelical born again Christians: meet the born again criteria but not all of the seven other criteria to be classified as an evangelical Christian
  • Notional Christians: identify as Christian, but do not meet the born again criteria
  • Other faith: identify with a non-Christian faith, or identify as a Christian but report beliefs not aligned with historic, orthodox Christianity
  • No faith: identify as agnostic or atheist, or as having no faith
  • Practicing Christian: Those who attend a religious service at least once a month, who say their faith is very important in their lives and self-identify as a Christian
  • Non-practicing Christians: Those who self-identify as a Christian but do not qualify as a practicing Christian
  • Self-ID Christians: self-identify as Christian

Church engagement:

Extended version:

  • Churched: very active: attended a church service in the past seven days, not including a special event such as a wedding or a funeral.
  • Churched: somewhat active: attended a service within the past month (but not within the past week)
  • Churched: minimally active: attended a service within the past six months (but not within the past month)
  • Unchurched: dechurched: formerly churched (very, somewhat or minimally active) but have not attended a service in the past six months

Simplified version:

  • churchgoers: attended church in the past month
  • unchurched: have not attended church in the past 6 months

Post-Christian:

To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet 60% or more of the following factors (nine or more). “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 80% or more of the factors (12 or more of these 15 criteria).

  1. Do not believe in God
  2. Identify as atheist or agnostic
  3. Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  4. Have not prayed to God (in the last year)
  5. Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  6. Disagree the Bible is accurate
  7. Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  8. Have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
  9. Agree that Jesus committed sins
  10. Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  11. Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  12. Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  13. Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  14. Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  15. Do not participate in a house church ( in the last year)

Secularized:

Respondents are defined as Secularized based on their responses to 17 criteria:

  1. Disagree strongly or somewhat that their faith is important in their life
  2. Identify as atheist or agnostic
  3. Faith Tribe: Skeptic
  4. Unchurched (have not attended a Christian church in the past six months)
  5. Have not prayed to God (past week)
  6. Have not read the Bible (past week)
  7. Have not volunteered at church (past week)
  8. Have not attended an adult Sunday school (past week)
  9. Have not attended a small group (past week)
  10. Have not donated any money to a church (past 12 months)
  11. Do not participate in a house church
  12. Do not believe in God
  13. Disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate
  14. Have never made a personal commitment to Jesus
  15. Agree strongly or somewhat that Jesus committed sins
  16. Disagree strongly or somewhat that they have a responsibility to share their faith
  17. Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
  • Secularized: high: meet at least 14 of the above criteria
  • Secularized: moderate: meet at least 10 of the above criteria
  • Secularized: low: meet fewer than 10 of the above criteria

Bible Minded:

These categories are the aggregate of respondents’ beliefs about and reading habits of the Bible:

  • Read Bible + accurate (agree strongly): read the Bible within the past seven days and who agrees strongly that the Bible is accurate
  • Read Bible + less accurate: read the Bible within the past seven days but do not agree strongly that the Bible is accurate
  • Do not read Bible + accurate: have not read the Bible within the past seven days but who agree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate
  • Do not read Bible + less accurate: have not read the Bible within the past seven days and who disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate.

Socioeconomic:

Downscale: Adults with an annual household income of $20,000 or less and who do not hold a college degree
Upscale: Adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more and who do hold a college degree

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