Is Discipleship Effective in U.S. Churches?


As we head into a new year, many people will resolve to make changes in their lives. For some, spiritual growth or inner transformation will be a priority. But how well are churches doing when it comes to helping people fulfill their spiritual resolutions?

Christian adults believe their churches are doing well when it comes to discipleship: 52 percent of those who have attended church in the past six months say their church “definitely does a good job helping people grow spiritually” and another 40 percent say it “probably” does so. Additionally, two-thirds of Christians who have attended church in the past six months and consider spiritual growth important say their church places “a lot” of emphasis on spiritual growth (67%); another 27 percent say their church gives “some” emphasis.

Church leaders, by stark contrast, tend not to believe churches are effective in this area. Only 1 percent say “today’s churches are doing very well at discipling new and young believers.” A sizable majority—six in 10—feels that churches are discipling “not too well” (60%). Looking at their own church, only 8 percent say they are doing “very well” and 56 percent “somewhat well at discipling new and young believers.” Thus, pastors give their own church higher marks than churches overall, but few believe churches—their own or in general—are excelling in discipleship.

Read more about Barna's findings on the state of discipleship or purchase the full report.

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