America’s spiritual slide has been happening for decades. Each succeeding generation has seen more and more people who identify themselves as “nones.” “Nones” are people who say they have no religious affiliation.
The latest findings from Barna reveal that Gen Z is continuing this downward spiral. (Gen Z is today’s kids—born between 1999 and 2015).
Gen Z is the first truly “Post-Christian” generation. More than any previous generation, Gen Z does not associate with any religious identity.
The percentage of Gen Z that identifies as atheist is double that of the adult population. The percentage of Gen Z kids who say they are atheist is 13 percent. This is compared to 6 percent of all adults.
What is causing the next generation to turn to atheism? Surveys among Gen Z reveals the big reasons.
- 29 percent – I have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil and suffering in the world.
- 23 percent – Christians are hypocrites.
- 20 percent – I believe science refutes the Bible.
- 19 percent – I don’t believe in fairy tales.
- 15 percent – There are too many injustices in the history of Christianity.
- 12 percent – I used to go to church, but it’s just not that important anymore.
- 6 percent – I had a bad experience at church or with a Christian.
Here are some more eye-opening findings about Gen Z…
- 37 percent believe it is not possible to know for sure if God is real.
- 58 percent believe many religions can lead to eternal life.
- 46 percent say they need factual evidence to support their beliefs.
- 49 percent says the church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world.
- 27 percent say the church is not a safe place to express doubts.
- 24 percent say the teaching they are exposed to is shallow.
Did you see the last few stats I listed? We are failing the next generation.
While Gen Z kids are growing up in a post-Christian culture, we are giving them lessons that are shallow and lack the substance that will sustain their faith.
While Gen Z kids desperately need to know why the Bible is true, we are teaching them character traits.
While Gen Z kids are internally asking the hard questions about Christianity, we are not creating safe places where they can openly grapple to find the answers.
While Gen Z kids want to know why they should trust a God whose world is ravaged by war, violence, injustice, natural disasters, pain and suffering, we are giving them cute, Christianese responses that aren’t sufficient.
While Gen Z kids need a discipleship pathway that will guide them to a solid faith foundation, we are taking them on fun trips to the local water park.
Our cute lessons won’t enable kids’ faith to survive the science class in their freshman year of college.
Our cute lessons won’t empower kids to be a difference maker in their workplace one day.
Our cute lessons won’t give kids the answers they need to the hard questions they are pondering.
Our cute lessons won’t help them live for God in a world that says He doesn’t exist.
If we are going to see Gen Z grow up to love Jesus, then we’ve got to…
Help kids discover the true nature and character of God. When kids understand the heart of God and know Him personally, they will trust Him.
Be strategic in what we teach. More than ever, we have to have a strategic plan that will take help kids develop a solid faith foundation.
Equip kids to be able to defend their faith. If they are going to escape the doubts that will be pushed their way, they must be able to defend why they believe what they believe.
Walk kids through the hard questions now. We must be proactive and help them find the right answers before they hear the wrong answers. A great place to start is with the Pranksters series, where kids face the hard questions about the Bible and find out why we believe it is true.
Move beyond just having kids memorize verses to helping them understanding what the verses really mean. It would be better to have kids memorize and understand one verse than to have them rapidly memorize 10 verses that they do not understand.
Not be afraid of letting science and the Bible intersect. We must show kids how the Bible is backed up by science. And if there appears to be a variance, how the Bible is true and reliable.
Behind the stats, are kids in your community and mine, in your church and mine, in your family and mine, who are in the process of deciding what they believe.
Kids who want to know if the Bible can be trusted. Kids who are questioning if science and faith can be compatible. Kids who are trying to figure out who Jesus is and why they should follow Him. Kids who are looking for answers to the hard faith questions.
Are our cute lessons turning kids into atheists? May this be a wake-up call for all of us.
This article originally appeared here.