CRC Staff | October 11, 2023
From the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University
GLENDALE, AZ – How many American kids are on track to develop a biblical worldview? According to a recent and extensive worldview research study conducted by renowned researcher and bestselling author Dr. George Barna, in collaboration with the Family Research Council and Arizona Christian University’s Cultural Research Center, the answer is—not many.
Based on the research, Barna identified seven specific beliefs, known as the “Seven Cornerstones of a Biblical Worldview,” that significantly increase the likelihood that an individual will develop a biblical worldview. Even though these beliefs do not constitute a complete biblical worldview, they provide a very strong foundation for developing that philosophy of life.
Individuals who embrace all seven cornerstones, Barna found, have an astounding 83% chance of developing a complete biblical worldview. Those who reject even one of the pillars have only a 2% likelihood.
So, what are the seven cornerstones and what percentage of U.S. children adhere to each? According to all new data, alluded to but not included in Barna’s recently released book, Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul, revealed:
- 69% believe God exists and is the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect Creator and ruler of the universe
- 36% believe that as a sinner, the only solution to the consequences of sin is to acknowledge your sins, ask God to forgive you through Jesus Christ, and rely on Him to save you from those consequences
- 35% believe sin is real, and significant; that we are all sinners, by choice
- 27% believe their most important reason for living is to do what God wants—i.e., God’s will
- 25% trust the Bible because they believe it is completely true and personally relevant to their life
- 21% uphold that the Bible provides a complete and reliable understanding of right and wrong
- 17% believe success is consistently doing what the Bible teaches
Surprisingly, only one of the seven core viewpoints—belief in the existence and biblical nature of God—is held by a majority of adolescents. A mere 3% of all 8- to-12-year-olds embraced all seven perspectives. Nearly a third (32%) embraced only one or two of the seven. Another one out of four (26%) embraced none of them.
According to ACU President Len Munsil, it’s imperative that parents and others who work with children focus efforts on these seven cornerstones.
“Because of this groundbreaking research, we don’t have to guess what might work when it comes to helping our children and grandchildren learn to think and act like Jesus,” Munsil explained. “We know the foundation that needs to be in place for children to develop a biblical worldview that they can carry into their adult lives.”
Munsil said, “These seven cornerstones give us a practical, proven roadmap to build biblical worldview in the next generation.”
Barna, a professor at Arizona Christian University and Director of Research at the Cultural Research Center, says that instead of being trained in the seven cornerstones, kids are following what’s being modeled for them.
“America’s children are in the process of adopting Syncretism as their predominant worldview,” Barna said. “They are following in the footsteps of their parents, of whom only 2% have a biblical worldview and 96% are Syncretists. This mindset and lifestyle is modeled daily for their children and has become the default position for the majority of Christian adults, adolescents, and children.”
Syncretism is the summary name for a disparate, irreconcilable collection of beliefs and behaviors that define people’s lives. It’s a cut-and-paste approach to making sense of, and responding to life. Rather than developing an internally consistent and philosophically coherent perspective on life, Barna says, Americans embrace points of view or actions that feel comfortable or seem most convenient or popular.
Barna says children begin forming their worldview between 15 and 18 months of age and by the age of 13, it’s almost entirely formed. And for the majority of people, research shows, it is unlikely to change much, if at all, over the remainder of their lives.
He emphasized, however, that the situation is not hopeless and suggests parents consult the strategies and tactics outlined in his new book, Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul.
Having written extensively on worldview over the past three decades, Barna says any parent who so desires can be a part of the solution, which simply begins with a commitment to raise a spiritual champion. This, he says, requires a solid plan that is consistently executed by the adult.
“The plan calls for a steady diet of teaching, discussing and modeling biblical principles, as well as evaluating how well the child is doing at understanding and applying those principles.”
Barna concluded, “Thanks to the research detailed in the book, we’re now aware of the most effective practices for fostering the spiritual growth of young disciples. The only factor missing is a large number of parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, coaches, and other influential individuals who are willing to make it their top priority in life.
The book, Barna’s 60th, is based on two years of research with adolescents, teenagers, parents, pastors and other adults. In addition, content analysis focused on the most popular media consumed by children was also performed, the results of which are contained in the book.
A bestseller on Amazon since its release, Raising Spiritual Champions is a collaborative effort between the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University and the Family Research Council. The book was written, Barna says, to assist parents, grandparents, churches, and others who influence children to intentionally and strategically address their spiritual development. It was published by Arizona Christian University Press in partnership with Fedd Books, an Austin-based literary agency, and is available for purchase at Amazon.com in both paperback and digital formats.
More information about these findings among 8- to 12-year-olds are explored in “The Pathway for Children to Become ‘Spiritual Champions,'” the third research release from Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul (Arizona Christian University Press in partnership with Fedd Books).