In February 2009 Barna released their study on spiritual gifts. You can read the whole report here: Spiritual Gifts and Evangelism.
I have taught on spiritual gifts as part of the Dunamis project in various countries and I find this of great interest.
The survey data point out several interesting conditions.
- Between those who do not know their gift (15%), those who say they don’t have one (28%) and those who claimed gifts that are not biblical (20%), nearly two-thirds of the self-identified Christian population who claim to have heard about spiritual gifts have not been able to accurately apply whatever they have heard or what the Bible teaches on the subject to their lives.
- A specific set of gifts, commonly described as the charismatic gifts, are widely possessed by Christians. Overall, 13% of Christian adults claimed to have one of more of those gifts (e.g., healing, interpretation, knowledge, miracles, prophecy, tongues). The people most likely to say they have a charismatic gift are woman (twice as likely as men); people without any college education; born again Christians; and people 45 or older. Intriguingly, although 13% say they have one or more charismatic gifts, the survey revealed that nearly twice as many (23%) described themselves as charismatics.
- The stagnation of evangelism relates to many factors, but one of those is probably the fact that just 1% of Christian adults (self-described or born again) claims the gift of evangelism. While the Bible never suggests that one must possess this gift in order to share the gospel, the depressed proportion of believers who identify with that gift reflects the stalled growth of the Christian body in America.
Barna finds lots of interesting data about the evangelical church. The statistic that most captured me was those who think they have the gift of evangelism.
Is evangelism a gift?
Is evangelism a mandate?
Does the gift of evangelism make one an evangelist?
Does the lack of the gift mean that one cannot evangelize?
Of course, I have my answers. I’d like to know yours. Feel free to share in the comments below.