Tracy F. Munsil, Ph.D | August 22, 2023
From the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University
GLENDALE, AZ — A long-awaited new book from renowned researcher and bestselling author Dr. George Barna is set to release on Sept. 5—and it’s specifically geared to help parents disciple and build the biblical worldview of their children.
“I want to wake people up—especially the parents of young children as well as individuals who have significant cultural influence—to understand that time is of the essence in transforming how we raise our children,” explained Dr. Barna, author of the book and Director of Research at the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University.
The product of seven different research studies conducted by Dr. Barna since 2022, Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul (published by Arizona Christian University Press in partnership with Fedd Books) is a dynamic, Bible-based, research-supported guide for the parents of tomorrow’s Christian church.
As Dr. Barna explained, it became “undeniably clear during my research that there is little objective information about conditions and practices related to the faith, discipleship and worldview of children.”
“This book aims to fill that gap,” he said.
Arizona Christian University President Len Munsil, father of eight adult children and grandfather of 18 grandchildren, calls Dr. Barna’s latest book a critical resource for today’s parents raising children in this cultural moment.
“We’ve been experiencing the negative consequences of the loss of God’s truth in our nation,” Munsil explained. “There’s no doubt a dramatic change needs to be made in how the next generation of children is raised—and their parents need support to do this.”
“Dr. Barna’s insight into the current spiritual landscape is a wake-up call—not only for parents, but for anyone concerned about raising the next generation of children to love and serve God,” he said.
“Raising Spiritual Champions is the handbook for raising the next generation with a biblical worldview,” Munsil said. “Dr. Barna’s research provides a clear picture of the current spiritual context of today’s children, while offering practical, research-based strategies to raise and disciple them to love God with their heart, mind, and soul—throughout their life.”
And according to Dr. Barna—the author of 60 books and long considered the country’s leading faith and culture researcher—Raising Spiritual Champions looks to fill what he deems a significant gap in the marketplace by providing not just insight into the state of the spiritual development of American’s children, but critical and practical steps towards a solution.
In the 20-plus years since the release of what became one of Dr. Barna’s bestselling books, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions (Baker Books, 2003), seismic changes have taken place across the American cultural and faith landscapes. If and how we minister to children, and the context in which such ministry occurs, is worlds away from where it was in 2003.
Among the most significant shifts? A virtually complete turnover in the parenting corps; dramatically altered attitudes about Christianity, the Bible, local churches, and children’s ministries; new perspectives on parenting; changes in lifestyle fostered by the pandemic, advances in technology, media, and sociopolitical transitions; and continued, dramatic changes in the worldview of Americans.
Dr. Barna felt a particular sense of urgency in the midst of it all.
“There is no lack of information related to the spiritual development of children and the role that parents and communities of faith play in that spiritual development process,” says Dr. Barna.
But “most available content centers on opinions, emotions, individual experiences, creative ideas, anecdotes, hopes, and desires of well-intentioned authority figures, things like that,” Dr. Barna explained. “While that information is not without value, much of it may be best taken with caution.”
Unlike other resources, Transforming Spiritual Champions provides insights into children’s spiritual development and practical discipleship strategies based on cutting-edge research informed by Dr. Barna’s four decades of experience researching faith, worldview, and culture in America.
The book is organized into three sections. The first details the importance of children and the opportunity to disciple them and examines how well existing ministry to children is faring. It also includes exclusive research insights from Dr. Barna regarding the efficacy of those ministries. A recent report from the Cultural Research Center’s American Worldview Inventory revealed that only 12% of American youth pastors possess a biblical worldview.
The second section unpacks what it takes to make a disciple, digging into four specific practices that characterize genuine disciples of Jesus. It also shares what Dr. Barna’s research shows to be the “Seven Cornerstones of the Biblical Worldview.”
The third and final section focuses on how media and church-based ministries are impacting the lives of children, including a discussion of how parents and other influencers can interact with media and churches most effectively in the campaign to disciple children.
A collaborative effort between the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University and the Family Research Council, the book is published by Arizona Christian University Press in partnership with Fedd Books, an Austin-based literary agency.
Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul (Arizona Christian University Press, 2023) is available for pre-order here. Arizona Christian University Press is the book-publishing entity of Arizona Christian University.