Methodology

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 list of some of the definitions we use:

Post-Christian:

To qualify as “post-Christian,” individuals had to meet nine or more of the following factors . “Highly post-Christian” individuals meet 13 or more of the factors (out of these 16 criteria).

  • Do not believe in God
  • Identify as atheist or agnostic
  • Disagree that faith is important in their lives
  • Have not prayed to God (in the last week)
  • Have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • Disagree the Bible is accurate
  • Have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
  • Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months)
  • Agree that Jesus committed sins
  • Do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
  • Have not read the Bible (in the last week)
  • Have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
  • Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
  • Have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
  • Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate)
  • Not Born Again

 

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 Attendance:

  • Churched: either very, somewhat or minimally active
  • 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: have not attended a service in the past six months
  • Unchurched (Dechurched): formerly churched (very, somewhat or minimally active) but have not attended a service in the past six months
  • Unchurched (Never churched): have never attended a church service besides a special event such as a wedding or a funeral
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