In Christ, Alone: Most Believers Say They Don’t Need Others for Discipleship by MEGAN FOWLER for Christianity Today
Over the past decade, more believers are heeding the scriptural call to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior”—but they’re often doing discipleship on their own.
A wide-ranging survey by LifeWay Researchfound that while US Christians had made improvements in areas like reading their Bibles daily, prioritizing obedience to Christ, and avoiding temptation, their connections with fellow Christians have weakened.
Hispanic and African American churchgoers may represent an exception to the overall trend, showing even greater progress in discipleship while deepening community ties.
The results came from this year’s 2019 Discipleship Pathway Assessment, which tracks eight measures of belief and practice, and can be compared to a similar study LifeWay conducted in 2011.
Among Protestants who attend church at least once each month:
- Most believe that an essential part of following Christ is saying “no” to the self and living to glorify God. This year, 66 percent of believers agreed with the statement, “A Christian must learn to deny himself or herself to serve Christ.” Slightly fewer (64%) churchgoers prioritized obedience when LifeWay studied Christian discipleship in 2011.
- They are spending more time in the Word. In 2019, 59 percent of churchgoers read the Bible every day or a few times each week, compared with 45 percent in 2011.
- Over three-quarters of respondents agreed with the statement, “I try to avoid situations in which I might be tempted to think or do immoral things,” up from 73 percent who agreed in 2011.
Image: LifeWay Research
Walking with God, but not others
Despite the gains, the 2019 study shows that today’s Christians struggle to build relationships and share Christ with others.
While the number of churchgoers spending time with other Christians to help them grow in their faith increased in the 2019 survey (47% in 2019, versus 42% in 2011), fewer than half of churchgoers (48%) agree with the statement, “I intentionally spend time with other believers to help them grow in their faith.” The same percentage of believers disagree with the statement as who strongly agree (19%).