Many Americans still believe in God and want to grow spiritually. That’s an opportunity.
Written by Brad Jenkins

They won’t want to hear it.

That’s the excuse I often tell myself about telling people about Jesus and our faith in Him.

Have you thought or said the same thing? In a time when the decline of the Christian faith in the West is on full display, it’s easy to get discouraged and lulled into a sense that people just aren’t interested. That they really don’t care.

Don’t believe it.

In his recent piece, “Rising Spiritual Openness in America,” Barna CEO David Kinnaman reveals that new research by his organization shows that 77 percent of Americans believe in God, 74 percent want to grow spiritually and 44 percent are more open to God now than before the COVID pandemic.

Frankly, the numbers surprised me. Maybe they surprise you, too. As the number of those with no religious affiliation rises in this country, I had assumed that not having faith meant not having an interest in faith. That has led me to read the Apostle Paul’s advice to his protégé, Timothy, to be ready to tell people about Jesus “in season and out of season” and think of our times as an “out-of-season” moment.

And that makes us – well, me, anyway – hesitant to even begin a spiritual conversation.

But the Barna findings paint a picture of us being more “in season” than we may have thought. Let’s think about these numbers in personal terms. Nearly 8 of 10 people in your life believe there is a God. Four in 10 people you encounter are more open to God now than before the pandemic. What if this is all an incredible opportunity to simply ask this question: “What do you think God is like?” What would happen if we ask that question, listen and see where it takes us?

Barna’s other finding – that nearly three in four people you meet want to grow spiritually – is more good news. People are open to talking about spiritual growth. They know that there is a supernatural dimension to life, and they want to understand it and grow in it. If you’re a Jesus-follower, this gives you some common ground to ask questions and start a conversation. What if you just asked: “How do you think we can grow more spiritual?” Listen and see where it takes you.

“Though religious affiliation and church attendance continue to decline, spiritual openness and curiosity are on the rise,” Barna’s Kinnaman writes. “Across every generation, in fact, we see an unprecedented desire to grow spiritually, a belief in a spiritual/supernatural dimension and a belief in God or a higher power.”

Maybe this shouldn’t surprise us as much as it does. Paul, in another of his letters, writes of how the evidence of God is all around us, pointing to a Creator. And the evidence that not all is right is all around us, too. So, naturally, perhaps – or, rather, supernaturally – God may be stirring up the people around us.

This is really good news, and it is a call for us to pay attention. You and I likely have a number of people in our lives right now who desire to grow spiritually. We could be the people to guide them in that growth. What an opportunity. And what an honor.