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Common Christian Terms

A new survey conducted by the Barna Research Group reveals widespread ignorance of common Christian terms. Researchers asked a sample group of 1,210 adults to define Great Commission, evangelical, John 3:16, and gospel. In each case, only a small minority gave accurate answers. Even “born-again Christians” had trouble answering.

  • Only nine percent of the respondents accurately defined Great Commission. About 75 percent of born-again Christians could not offer a definition.
  • Eighteen percent of the respondents correctly defined evangelical, with 57 percent of born-again Christians unable to give a definition.
  • Twenty-five percent of the respondents gave accurate or partially accurate descriptions of John 3:16, and half of the born-again Christians could not offer a definition.
  • Thirty-seven percent of the respondents correctly defined gospel, and 16 percent of born-again Christians could not offer a definition.
  • These terms “clearly do not convey the intended meaning to the masses,” concluded George Barna, president of Barna Research Group. “The fact that so few of the insiders understand the meaning of these terms also suggests that the Christian church in this country would be wise to invest in training people about the basic principles and concepts of the Christian faith.”

Moody Monthly, April, 1994, p. 60