PHOENIX, AZ – The Cultural Research Center (CRC) at Arizona Christian University has released the fourth in a series of reports included in its American Worldview Inventory.“Seeking Purpose and Success” follows three previous reports summarized in Missions Box News articles entitled “Barna Defines the Dilemma of Christianity in Digital Babylon” (March 17, 2020), “Biblical Worldview in Decline Among Christians in America” (April 3, 2020), and “Survey Reveals America’s Greatest Existential Threat” (April 28, 2020).PurposeThis newest release reveals what Dr. George Barna described a staggering disconnect between American views of God relative to purpose and success in life. Although “a whopping majority (86%) … believe we have a unique, God-given calling or purpose,” the disconnect is discovered by drilling deeper into how that calling and purpose are defined.
“Americans hold on to these basic biblical ideas of what makes human existence meaningful, yet, at the same time, we refuse to recognize reliance on God or His existence when talking about human success or purpose.”
The 14% who disagreed that we have a common purpose or reason for living includes 10% who believe there is no universal purpose and 4% who are unsure or “don’t know.” Those who agreed that we do share a common purpose fell into the following categories presented as options on the survey.
- 23% – Experiencing happiness and fulfillment
- 18% – Evolving into our full potential
- 10% – Furthering the development of humanity
- 10% – Living a long, healthy life
- 7% – Advancing world peace
That leaves a meager 18% who believe that our common purpose is “knowing, loving, and serving God.”
Also staggering is the small percentage of self-identified Christians (38%) who agree that our common purpose is to know, love, and serve the Lord.
It is impossible to measure success unless we know our purpose. The CRC survey offered nine different possible choices for how the respondents define what success would mean for them.
- 25% – Living a healthy, productive, and safe life
- 22% – Being a good person
- 18% – Experiencing personal happiness or freedom
- 4% – Being liked and respected by other people
- 3% – Having or achieving things that society values
- 2% – Whatever society deems success to be
- 2% – Returning as a more evolved life form
- 4% – Don’t know
Startling by its low percentage, only 21% defined success as “consistent obedience to God.”
Also troubling, only 28% of self-identified Christians agreed with the biblical concept of success. Equally disturbing, only 23% of those who attend mainline Protestant churches and only 16% of Catholic adherents agreed.
“Just 7% of adults believed both that the common purpose of humanity is to know, love, and serve God and that the best indicator of success is consistent obedience to God.”
Dr. Barna summarized the “staggering disconnect,” observing that
“People who pursue a life devoted to achievement, happiness, productivity, and striving for goodness … miss the point that life flourishes when we become God-reliant rather than self-reliant. Being self-centered rather than dependent on God typically produces emptiness and disappointment … [while] those who pursue godly obedience … are more likely to experience the very outcomes that most people are unsuccessfully pursuing through self-reliance and self-righteousness.”
- The Christian Post, Few Americans view life’s purpose as ‘knowing, loving and serving God’: poll
- The Cultural Research Center, AWVI 2020 Results – Release #4: Seeking Purpose and Success