What is the “American Dream” for most Americans? What do they really want? In Barna’s latest study, he looks at what Americans want when they dream of their ideal life. Here is what they found:
There were six specific conditions that at least three-quarters of all adults identified as being very important elements in their ideal life. Those included having good physical health (listed by 85%), living with a high degree of integrity (also 85%), having one marriage partner for life (80%), having a clear purpose for living (77%), having a close relationship with God (75%), and having close, personal friendships (74%).
There were another half-dozen items listed by at least half of the adults interviewed. Those conditions included having a comfortable lifestyle (mentioned by 70%), having a satisfying sex life with their marriage partner (66%), having children (66%), living close to family and relatives(63%), being deeply committed to the Christian faith (59%), and making a difference in the world (56%).
The survey uncovered seven conditions that only a minority of Americans deemed worthy of including in their vision of their desired future life. Those conditions included having a college degree (named by 46%), being personally active in a church (45%), traveling throughout the world for pleasure (28%), working in a high-paying job (28%), owning a large home (18%), owning the latest household technology/electronics (11%) and achieving fame or public recognition (7%).
There are some fascinating trends here in this study.
One example is that having a close personal relationship with Christ was very important and yet being personally active in a church was very low. It is an interesting disconnect that people see the church as an impediment to their relationship with Christ. It also shows how individualistic we are in our relationship with God. The community and body of Christ doesn’t in the minds of many Christians connect, as it should, to their relationship with Christ.
That is a shame.
We are not merely individuals in a privatized relationship with God but rather we are part of a “community”. And as such we need one another to grow and be encouraged toward become more Christ-like.
I know that part of this disconnect has been the church’s fault. We have made church an activity to do, merely a place to go, and simply a club to join. Rather, the church is called to Love God through our worship, to Love One another through real, authentic friendships, and to Love the Community by going and serving the least, the last and the lost. These things are on the very heart of God. It should be on our heart as well.
May we as a church reclaim that vision and purpose again.