The Barna Group has new research out on the youth exodus from the church. As a reminder, in 2009 AiG produced the book Already Gone, detailing research by America’s Research Group on why 2/3rds of young people are leaving the church by the time they reach college age. The church is losing the next generation. It only takes one generation to lose a culture—remember what happened after Joshua and his generation died: “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
I have linked to an article about the study—but wanted to comment on just a few points. The article states: “The study also found many young adults do not like the way churches appear to be against science. Over one-third of young adults said that “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” and one-fourth of them said that “Christianity is anti-science”.”
Based on the careful research conducted for Already Gone, we found that a major problem is that churches and Christian homes just teach Bible stories (Jonah and the great fish; Paul’s missionary journeys; Jesus on the Cross, etc.), which we should all hear about, but most of these students go to public schools where they are being taught a certain kind of apologetics—they are being taught the so-called evidence for millions of years and evolution. Because of this, many of these students begin to doubt and then disbelieve God’s Word and its various accounts. We found they were “already gone” in their hearts and minds at a young age. It is no wonder the Barna study had so many say that “Christianity is anti-science.” To them, they are taught “real evidence” at school (and through the TV), but at church are taught “stories.” They see the church as anti-science. Not only that, but our research found many of these young people are told by a church authority figure to believe in evolution and millions of years—reinforcing what they are taught at school. Thus when they are also taught at church to “believe” the Bible, they see the hypocrisy—and many eventually reject God’s Word as they begin to believe more and more that the Bible is “anti-science.”
The Barna-related article also states, “The fifth reason the study gives for such an exodus from churches is many young adults struggle with the exclusivity of Christianity. Twenty-nine per cent of young Christians said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and feel they have to choose between their friends and their faith.” We believe this reinforces our belief that there is a lack of the teaching of apologetics in churches and Christian homes. Most kids are not taught how to answer the skeptical questions of this age and how to defend the Christian faith. Most churches concentrate on spiritual, devotional, and moral things (and teach just Bible stories—and the word “story” today has come to mean fable or fiction to many people), but don’t teach generations how to logically defend the Christian faith against false religions and the secular attacks of our age—such as evolution and millions of years. This is why AiG has been producing apologetics-based VBS programs (that emphasize biblical authority, the gospel, and how to defend the Christian faith). Also, AiG is producing an entire integrated Bible curriculum for all ages to educate generations in biblical authority, the gospel, and how to defend the Christian faith against the attacks of our age so that generations will be able to stand boldly and uncompromisingly on the authority of the Word of God.
Another part of the article states: “Many young adults also feel that their experience of Christianity was shallow. One-third of survey participants felt that “church is boring.” After speaking in a church on Genesis and science, a lady came up to me with her teenage daughter. She said, “My daughter keeps complaining that church is boring. But she sat up and listened to you this morning and then said to me, ‘Mom, now I understand what the Bible is about—this changes everything.’ You really touched a nerve with my daughter. She loved what you said.”
Actually, I have heard similar testimonies over and over again. This is because so many churches do not connect the Bible to the real world—kids think the Bible is just a book of stories—but what a difference it makes when they understand it is real history that connects to geology, biology, astronomy, etc.—and that there are logical answers to what they are being taught at school (evolution and millions of years) that to them undermines the Bible’s authority.
Another comment in the article states: “18 per cent said that their church was too concerned about the negative impact of movies, music and video games.” I personally believe this is because there are churches who speak against these things (movies, music, and video games), but those they are attempting to impose this on by and large don’t believe the Book (the Bible) upon which Christian morality is based. It is seen as a type of legalism that imposes a morality on people. Christian leaders need to teach God’s Word as the true history of the world, teach generations how to answer the skeptical questions of this age, and help build a Christian morality on the foundation of the revealed Word of God. They need to build a Christian worldview from the foundation up, not impose it from the top down.
There is much more we could say—but I urge you to read the book Already Gone—or read it again!
Here is the link to the article:
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Article From Answers in Genesis