Christians worldwide are simply becoming too busy for God, a newly released five-year study revealed.
In data collected from over 20,000 Christians with ages ranging from 15 to 88 across 139 countries, The Obstacles to Growth Survey found that on average, more than 4 in 10 Christians around the world say they "often" or "always" rush from task to task.
Busyness proved to be the greatest challenges in Japan, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Indonesia. Christians in Uganda, Nigeria, Malaysia and Kenya were least likely to rush from task to task. But even in the less-hurried cultures, about one in three Christians report that they rush from task to task. In Japan, 57 percent agreed.
The busy life was found to be a distraction from God among Christians around the globe.
About 6 in 10 Christians say that it's "often" or "always" true that "the busyness of life gets in the way of developing my relationship with God." Christians most likely to agree were from North America, Africa and Europe. By country, Christians in South Africa, Nigeria, Canada, Singapore, Ireland, Philippines, the United States, and the United Kingdom, are more distracted from God, respectively, than those in other countries.
While across gender lines, busyness afflicts both men and women, the distraction from God was more likely to afflict men than women in every surveyed continent except North America, where 62 percent of women reported busyness interfering with their relationship with God compared to 61 percent of men.
By profession, pastors were most likely to say they rush from task to task (54 percent) which adversely also gets in the way of developing their relationship with God (65 percent).
"It's tragic. And ironic. The very people who could best help us escape the bondage of busyness are themselves in chains," said Dr. Michael Zigarelli, associate professor of Management at the Charleston Southern University School of Business who conducted the study.
Managers, business owners, teachers and salespeople were among Christians most likely to say they rush from task to task. And professionals whose busyness interferes with developing their relationship with God include lawyers (72 percent), managers (67 percent), nurses (66 percent), pastors (65 percent), teachers (64 percent), salespeople (61 percent), business owners (61 percent), and housewives (57 percent).
"The accelerated pace and activity level of the modern day distracts us from God and separates us from the abundant, joyful, victorious life He desires for us," said Zigarelli.
While the study does not explain why Christians are so busy and distracted, Zigarelli described the problem among Christians as "a vicious cycle" prompted by cultural conformity.
"[I]t may be the case that (1) Christians are assimilating to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload, which leads to (2) God becoming more marginalized in Christians’ lives, which leads to (3) a deteriorating relationship with God, which leads to (4) Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to (5) more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry and overload. And then the cycle begins again."
Zigarelli, who believes busyness and distraction may be a global pandemic, suggested breaking the cycle by "re-ordering our thinking," including "the way we think about who God is and how He wants us to live our lives."
The Obstacles to Growth Survey was conducted on 20,009 Christians – the majority of whom came from the United States, from December 2001 to June 2007. With small sample sizes (less than 30 people) used in Germany, Ireland, Mexico and Japan, Zigarelli urges caution when drawing conclusions about those countries.