In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and texting, many Americans feel more connected to people than ever, but a new national survey by The Barna Group shows that Americans are not just connected to each other. One of the dominant connections in people’s lives is with Jesus Christ. In fact, more people claim to be closely connected to Jesus Christ than have a Facebook page or Twitter account.
The Barna study, conducted among a random sample of 1,002 U.S. adults, discovered that two out of every three adults (67%) claimed to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus that is currently active and that influences their life.
While a majority of most demographic segments said they had such an active and personal relationship with Jesus, some segments were more likely than others to claim such a connection. For instance, women (72%) were more likely than men (62%) to do so. Protestants were more likely than Catholics to cite such a relationship (82% versus 72%). People who describe themselves as mostly conservative on social and political matters were far more likely than those who see themselves as liberal on such issues to connect with Jesus (79% compared to 48%). And one of the most instructive findings was that the younger a person was, the less likely they were to claim to have an active and influential bond with Jesus. Specifically, while 72% of adults 65 or older and 70% of Boomers (i.e., ages 46 to 64) had such a relationship in place, 65% of Busters (i.e., ages 27 to 45) and only 52% of Mosaics (ages 18 to 26) did, as well.
Communication in the Relationship
For any relationship to be meaningful there must be effective two-way communication. While an overwhelming majority of Americans claim to pray during a typical week (more than 80%), the new Barna study points out that a majority also believes that Jesus speaks back to them. Overall, 38% said they are “completely certain” that Jesus speaks to them in ways that are personal and relevant to their circumstances. An additional 21% said they are “somewhat certain” that He does so, while 10% contend that Jesus speaks to them but they were not as sure about that communication. Eight percent did not know if Jesus Christ speaks to them.
In total, less than one-quarter of all adults (23%) stated that Jesus does not speak to them. Those people were most likely to be atheists and agnostics; under the age of 30; residents of the western or northeastern states; Asian-Americans; and those who describe themselves as mostly liberal on social and political matters.
According to Americans, Jesus speaks to them in multi-faceted ways. At least one out of every six adults contends that He communicates with them in the following manner:
· 52%: by influencing or connecting directly with their mind, emotions or feelings
· 41%: through the content of a Bible passage they read or which was read to them
· 36%: by providing a sign
· 34%: through sermon or teaching content concerning their immediate situation or need
· 31%: through miraculous or inexplicable circumstances or outcomes
· 31%: through words spoken to them by someone else who was speaking for God
· 18%: through a passage they read in a book other than the Bible
· 16%: through an audible voice or whisper that they could hear