Most Protestants think they can walk with God just fine on their own

(Photo: Unsplash/Bill Hamway)

A new survey by Lifeway Research has found conflicting opinions among Protestant Christians about the extent to which they need other Christians to thrive. 

In the survey of 2,500 Protestant churchgoers, just under two thirds (65%) said they could walk with God just fine by themselves. 

However, three quarters said they needed the help of other believers to grow in their walk with God. 

Younger churchgoers aged 18 to 34 (41%) and those aged 35 to 49 (40%) were more likely to strongly agree that they needed the help of other believers in their walk of faith, than churchgoers aged 65 and older (34%).

The survey also found that evangelical Protestants (42%) and black Protestants (37%) were more likely than their mainline counterparts (28%) to say that the help of other believers was needed.

When it came to who felt they could walk alone, women (38%) were more likely to see faith as a solo act than men (33%).

Kenneth Priest, interim director of the Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern, said the findings suggested that people were failing to find their need for community satisfied in the local church. 

"The 'needing, yet not needing' responses demonstrate an internal turmoil of individuals desiring community, but not seeing the church as the place to have those needs met," he said. 

He said it was "primarily a discipleship issue" and that a "lack of pastors and spiritual leaders equipped to effectively preach" was driving "spiritual apathy" among Christians. 

"Solo Christianity is an inward desire to seek after spiritual matters without the realization biblical community is what will fulfill the desire they are seeking," Priest added. 

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said the current trend contradicted the biblical metaphor of the church being the body of Christ and its teaching "that believers should both value and depend on each other".

"Americans don't like to admit they can't do things themselves. That is true of Christians as well," he continued.

"One's walk with God should include dependence on God and mutual dependence among believers."