Spiritual gifts claimed by Americans (Barna)

According to the latest Barna Report:

. . . The most commonly claimed gifts were teaching (9%), service (8%) and faith (7%). Those were followed by encouragement (4%), healing (4%), knowledge (4%), and tongues (3%). The gift of leadership was mentioned by just 2%.

There were significant differences in the answers provided by evangelicals, non-evangelical born agains and notional Christians. Evangelicals were more likely than people from the other faith segments to say that they had gifts of teaching (28%), service (12%), encouragement (10%), and administration (7%). The non-evangelical born again segment was the group most likely to claim the gifts of faith (10%) and hospitality (3%). Notional Christians were most notable for having the largest percentage who said they had no gift at all (37%, compared to 16% of evangelicals and 24% of non-evangelical born agains).

Examining the data for all born again Christians (i.e., evangelical and non-evangelical combined) over the past 13 years shows several change patterns:

  1. The percentage that claims to have the gift of encouragement has grown steadily from 2% in 1995 to 6% today.
  2. Since 1995, the proportion of born again adults claiming the gift of evangelism dropped from 4% to 1%.
  3. Those who do not know what their gift is rose from 8% in 2000 to 13% today.

False Gifts

The survey also found that many people who say they have heard of spiritual gifts were not necessarily describing the same gifts outlined in the Bible. Among the gifts claimed that are not among those deemed to be spiritual gifts in the passages of scripture that teach about gifts (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:7-13, 1 Peter 4:10-11) were a sense of humor, singing, health, life, happiness, patience, a job, a house, compromise, premonition, creativity, and clairvoyance.

In total, one-fifth of all the gifts cited by respondents (21%) were attributes that do not fit the biblical lists of gifts given by God . . .

Of course, I’d love to see how these compare with the rest of the world.

Read the whole Barna report on the Survey of Spiritual gifts.

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5 thoughts on “Spiritual gifts claimed by Americans (Barna)

  1. Simon says:

    I don’t see how anything can be labeled a ‘false gift’, unless somebody claims the gift of hatred or something similar. Paul was not giving exhaustive lists in scripture, and even if he was, these were only for then and not now.

    Sorry George Barna, but I have a gift of computers. Its from God.

  2. […] Ben Byerly points to the latest Barna survey on which spiritual gifts people claim to have. Now, colour me cynical, but I often find both the topics and the questions asked by these Barna surveys decidedly odd, and ponder how they are weighted. In this case I know I’m in question mode right away when the news release starts out: […]

  3. Ben says:

    Yeah. I’m not sure why he calls them “false gifts.” Additional gifts maybe. But you are absolutely right, how can “humor, singing, health, life, happiness, patience, a job, a house, compromise, premonition, creativity” be FALSE?

    Also, make sure you click on the MetaCatholic link in the previous comment for other problems with the report.

  4. Chris W says:

    While he may have used a poor choice of words, I think his meaning is clear — gifts or personality traits not specifically mentioned in scripture. They are gifts / talents, just not mentioned.

    I found this statistic sad:

    The stagnation of evangelism relates to many factors, but one of those is probably the fact that just 1% of Christian adults (self-described or born again) claims the gift of evangelism. While the Bible never suggests that one must possess this gift in order to share the gospel, the depressed proportion of believers who identify with that gift reflects the stalled growth of the Christian body in America.

    Chris W

    • Ben says:

      “False” gifts/talents is still a very harsh word to use when talking about things that could be from God – that just aren’t mentioned in the Bible.

      That being said, whether or not one thinks they have the gift of “evangelism” per se, we all still have the responsibility to share the good news. Maybe one place to start is to step outside our church bubbles; maybe I’ll start with me.

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