Book Review: Futurecast

In Futurecast, George Barna has given readers a bird’s eye view of the state of American society at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. There are chapters that deal with people’s lifestyles, morals and financial behavior. As the book progresses, he increasingly focuses on religious beliefs and behavior. After presenting data in each chapter, he spends a few pages reflecting on what it all means.

This is the first book of George Barna’s that I’ve read. Before I read the book, however, I knew that Barna was the head of a Christian research organization that conducted regular surveys of Americans, and particularly American Christians. So I had some idea what to expect. There was indeed a lot of data, and much of it was interesting, if not that surprising. The trends that Barna described were occasionally encouraging, but mostly troubling to Christians. He does, however, end the book on a hopeful note.

Futurecast will be of most interest to those Christian readers who enjoy a data-driven way of looking at trends. My personality is strongly intuitive, and so while I did find many parts of the book interesting, it was not until Barna began extrapolating from the data and putting it all together that he really began speaking my language.

The title is a little misleading, since the book focuses heavily on present trends rather than the future. Barna mentions in the introduction that the book contains little in the way of predictions, since predictions that look more than five years ahead are highly speculative. When he talks about the future, he emphasizes redirecting trends rather than predicting what the future will be like.