Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that certain popular speaker recently released a highly controversial book. Seizing the day, the Barna Organization recently released the results of a survey about American attitudes towards universalism – or as they describe well – whether people have an inclusive or exclusive view of religion. Two statistics were interesting to me:

  • 51% of Americans believe they have “a responsibility to tell other people their religious beliefs.”
  • 62% of Americans said it is important “to have active, healthy relationships with people who belong to religious faiths that do not accept the central beliefs of your faith.”In other words, more Americans value friendship with people of other faiths and value sharing their own faith.

I immediately thought of two clear implications for church planting:

  • In starting a church, one of the first challenges is finding and motivating others who will value sharing their faith. In my experience, many devoted followers of Jesus are very content to keep their faith to themselves. Barna’s research confirms my experience.
  • As followers of Christ we must learn to master friendship. Not master pretending to be friend so we can tell someone about Jesus. Master actually being friends with people of all kinds of people who believe and live all kinds of ways. It is this kind of authentic and inclusive friendship our culture is craving.

I’m curious what implication you see in this research?

Craig Whitney is the Director of the Emerging Leadership Initiative. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and at his personal blog.