USA (MNN) — The Barna Group recently conducted a survey and found that 51 percent of churchgoers do not know the term “the Great Commission”, which is found in Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
Barna Group Survey
The survey found that 17 percent knew the term and could identify what it meant as well as the scriptural passage it went with. Twenty-five percent of the people surveyed said they had heard of “the Great Commission”, but they didn’t know what it was, and finally, six percent said they couldn’t remember if they’d heard the term before.
Barna further shared five passages from the Bible with churchgoers and asked if they could guess or identify which passage was known as the Great Commission.
Thirty-seven percent answered correctly. Thirty-three percent weren’t sure if any of the passages referred to the Great Commission, and 31-percent answered incorrectly.
The study says this could mean the term is used less in churches or it could show a decrease in interest of working towards the Great Commission.
However, Keys for Kids’ Greg Yoder says this reveals a lack of biblical knowledge in the nation.
“It’s fairly dismal for the status of the Church. I mean we’ve heard about biblical illiteracy, but this is biblical illiteracy on steroids. I mean, think about it, it’s not just that 51 percent of churchgoers don’t know the term “the Great Commission”, even more the percentage don’t even know where it’s found if they have heard of it or they can’t even identify who said it or where it came from,” Yoder says.
“We need to be in the Word as Christians. I don’t know how to say it any more verbally and if we’re not reading our Bibles as parents and grandparents, how in the world are kids going to actually get into the habit of reading their Bibles? And it’s no wonder that kids are leaving the Church today in droves because they have no idea why they believe what they believe.”
Age Relating to the Survey
The study shows age does make a difference for those who recognize the term “the Great Commission”.
Twenty-nine percent of elders, or people born before 1946, recognized the text the term was related to. Twenty-six percent of boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – said they knew the text. Seventeen percent of Generation X – those who were born between 1965 and 1983 – said they recognized it. And only 10 percent of millennials, or people born between 1984 and 2002, recognized it.
The rate of those who have heard of “the Great Commission” has decreased by each generation. The study acknowledges that not even half of each age group knew the Great Commission very well, but the youngest age group was the least likely to recognize it.
This data could further reflect that daily devotions are decreasing in many American households, affecting the next generation’s spiritual walk.
“Parents are leaving the training of God’s Word into the hands of Sunday school teachers and pastors. They’re not taking it home. They’re not reading about it,” Yoder says.
This sets an example for younger generations and establishes their daily habits.
Yoder says his family rarely took part in daily devotions.
“It wasn’t because I didn’t want to do them. Sometimes, it was just a chore to get the kids to want to do it. So, having to have one more battle in the family wasn’t something that I was willing, at the time, to do. And now, as I look back at my life and as a parent, I wished I’d spent more time with my kids being in the Word and I think that’s a lot of us.”
Yoder says many parents are busy and the time they do have with their kids, they don’t want to spend it studying the Bible because it seems like a chore.
“That’s why we need things that are not only going to make it encouraging for young people to be able to dig into the Word, which can in some ways be boring but provide great stories that are going to share things and help kids understand biblical truths and real-life circumstances,” Yoder says.
Keys for Kids is encouraging families to dig into the Bible together by offering devotionals every day on their free Keys for Kids app. The messages revolve around stories that kids can relate to and understand.
Using Stories to Teach
Keys for Kids sees the use of stories as the best way to share the Gospel because that’s how Jesus taught.
“He used parables all throughout Scripture to teach biblical lessons… Stories are [a] great way to be able to communicate the true messages of Scripture so we don’t have a bunch of biblically illiterate kids once they hit 18. And we know that one thing is true, that if we continue to teach our kids these lessons… they’re never going to forget it, and chances are they’re going to follow on and share it with others.”
The more children learn about the Gospel, dig into Scripture, and memorize verses at a young age, they will be more prepared and enabled to act as defenders of their faith as they grow older.
For children whose parents are not active in reading the Bible, Yoder encourages them to download the Keys for Kids mobile app to read or listen to their daily devotional. Many children have learned from the message and apply it to their lives.
The most important action to take, Yoder says, is to be in the Word on a daily basis and making it a priority.
Perhaps millennials will be leading the world in the Great Commission one day if they do.