This is the first blog I’ve written in forever! As a “boomer” I’m terrible at this social media thing. But then again, I only write when I actually have something to say instead of just spewing forth opinion after opinion ad nauseum for no apparent reason. I hope you indulge me in my less than regular posts!
That said, I read an article that really disturbed me – so much so I have to address it here!
I’m a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and in their latest edition of Christian Counseling Today (Volume 25, No. 3), George Barna of the Barna Group writes that only 4 percent of Millennials have a biblical worldview.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Those born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 26-41) are for the most part not part of the faith. An entire generation!
Barna continues, “In fact, among the latter portion of the generation (i.e., those 18-24), only 2 percent have a biblical worldview. This discovery is part of the larger national trend in which the incidence of biblical worldview possession has declined by 50 percent over the past 25 years.”
So, what do these Millennials believe? “Very few Millennials have fully embraced alternative worldviews, such as Marxism, secular humanism, postmodernism, or others – less than 3 percent for any of them. More commonly, Millennials (like older adults) are syncretic, choosing an eclectic, personalized blend of ideas and principles from various competing worldviews. Overall, nine out of 10 young adults live according to such a mash-up of philosophical inconsistent perspectives,” according to Barna.
Here are a few more numbers from Barna that stood out to me:
- 75 percent of Millennials claim they are still searching for their purpose in life
- 54 percent of Millennials report struggling with anxiety, depression, and fear
- Only 25 percent believe that life is sacred (meaning 75 percent don’t)
- 19 percent believe they go to heaven solely based on their confessed sin and Jesus as their savior
- 56 percent believe that if people are good enough during their lifetime they go to heaven
- 43 percent are “Don’t” – Don’t know if God exists; Don’t care if God exists; Don’t believe that God exists
Think through this to its obvious conclusion: Millennials are going to be our not-so-future elected officials, judges, government bureaucrats, corporate leaders, and media talking heads. Millennials are the ones shaping the societal and cultural norms for tomorrow. You see that already in the so-called “Woke” movement. Thus, we can look forward to basically a Godless generation leading America during the next 30 years.
Barna is correct when he writes that we didn’t get here over night. America has been what they call “Post Christian” for quite some time, meaning that the nation’s belief in the God of the Bible and its impact of society have been waning over the decades. But this generation is especially out of touch with God.
Interestingly, Barna notes that studies have shown that worldview begins as early as 15-18 months old and is fully formed by the age of 13 years old! Millennials, according to studies, were not given dedicated and consistent instruction in biblical worldviews and thus grew up without that foundational understanding.
Here’s another interesting fact: six out of 10 Millennials call themselves Christians!
The disconnect is obvious and you see that in our churches today which have pretty much divided into two groups: Churches that stick with biblical truths that clearly are not in step with cultural norms, and churches that bend biblical truth to meet the definition of those Millennials who define Christianity in a way that feels good to them. (Yeah, I know that was harsh but that doesn’t make it any less true.)
As a boomer, I’m conflicted as to how to approach the problem.
No generation really listens to the one before – at least in the “bell curve” sense. I know that those of us on the back end of the Baby Boom train really did listen to our Depression Era, World War II parents, taking in their value set even though our older siblings were hippies and rebelled against them. I doubt seriously if the Millennials would listen to the Gen X or Boomer generation at this point.
Politically, I see our national fracturing into strict federalism – each state having very different worldviews and people moving to states that support their own views. For example, I live in a Blue state – Oregon – and many of my more conservative friends have moved to Idaho which is Red. I believe this will happen with our faith as well.
As Millennials begin to assume power positions the church in more progressive liberal states will be less and less tolerated, which means you will see legislative actions in an attempt to restrict our biblical worldview. People of faith will most likely move to states that still support a biblical worldview, such as the so-called “Bible Belt” states or places such as Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the like. You already saw this happening during the pandemic. Oregon shut down churches at one point ordering no gathering of more than 25 people spread six feet apart and no singing. Most Oregon churches shut down while some rebelled saying that it was an infringement on their religious freedoms. Churches continued to meet in Texas, Florida, Idaho and other Red states. See what I mean?
The other thing that is going to happen is many mainstream churches are going to die. If the Millennial generation (72.1 million or 21.8 percent) do not attend church as the Boomer generation dies off, a large portion of churches will simply be unable to keep their doors open. According to Religion News Service 4,500 churches closed in 2019 while 3,000 new congregations were started. I believe that trend will not only continue but the gap will increase.
All this is pretty depressing except of one of those statistics which actually gives me hope!
If it is true that 75 percent of these Millennials are still searching for their purpose in life we have a wedge issue! We know that Jesus gives us purpose, that God created us for good works, and that fulfillment comes from doing what God created us to do. As these Millennials search, we, the Body of Christ, can meet them where they are and show them that purpose. I believe that the next wave of evangelism won’t be screaming John 3:16 so much as rolling up our sleeves and pouring ourselves into the lives of Millennials one person at a time introducing them to Jesus up close and personal.
It’s a tall order – much harder than when I was growing up and everyone agreed on a firm set of biblical absolutes even if they didn’t follow them. Yet, I find it no harder than when Paul had to roam around the Greek city states sharing Jesus with gentiles at the risk of being stoned, imprisoned, and killed. What we can’t do is bury our head in the sand, bemoan the state of our nation, and blast these godless Millennials for wrecking our country! Only love overcomes darkness and those blinded by Satan are not necessarily at fault, especially if we’ve not shared the truth of Jesus with them.
As Jesus said, “Take Heart!” There is always opportunity if chaos and the light shines brightest in the darkest places. So, engage the problem – build relationships with your Millennial friends, co-workers, and even family members. Meet them where they are and pour into them so they will know that their purpose will never be found in worldly things; it only can be found in Jesus.
Tom, I’m sending you an email response to this blog post that takes a different perspective to the problem of Millennial/Gen Z rejection of the church. It’s a bit long, so email is a better method.
I COMPLETELY AGREE with Jeff’s letter. He says it way better than I could. I urge all followers of Heavy, Deep and Real to contemplate Jeff’s comments. Read slowly and carefully, asking the Holy Spirit to guide your search and then SHUT UP and Let God speak to you. Don’t tell God what you think, He already knows. He wants you to know what HE thinks.