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Barna: Disturbing News on Youth Evangelism

A new study showing a decline of faith-related behavior by young evangelical Christians should be of great concern to the church, warns George Pytlik, the author of a commentary on the biblical book of Daniel.

The recently published study by the Barna Group (www.barna.org) shows that, while there hasn’t been much change in church attendance among young evangelicals, their involvement in prayer and in sharing their faith have steadily declined. Explaining their faith to others has dropped by about 3% annually since 1998 to less than 50% involvement in 2009.

Pytlik points out that if this rate of decline continues unchecked, evangelism by youth will reach zero by 2024.

“If faith sharing by teenagers continues to slide at the present rate, it will end in just 14 years,” he warns. “We’ve known that secularization is having a negative effect on Christian young people. This study confirms that youth are not sharing their faith as much as before. As they respond to cultural pressure that faith is something they should keep to themselves, they’re losing touch with the power, joy and relevance of living a disciplined Christian life.”

Pytlik, who helped launch the Internet ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1993, is deeply troubled about this loss of spiritual values. “Young people used to be the most vibrant of all Christian demographics when it came to sharing their faith,” he says. “Their purity of faith has inspired millions. It is a tragedy to see that passion fall away.”

Pytlik explains that his commentary, “Daniel: God’s Messenger to our Times,” was written to encourage ordinary Christians, and especially youth, to discover the power and inspiration made possible by living a life of integrity and genuine faith, especially in a culture that doesn’t value those qualities.

“Daniel was just a teenager when he was taken to Babylon,” Pytlik explains. “He was put into a pagan school environment for a three-year training program. Yet even immersed in that culture, his faith never dimmed. Daniel and his friends showed such integrity and godly wisdom that the tyrant king declared these young men, essentially captured slaves, to be ‘ten times better’ than even the most learned men in the empire! Some 70 years later, he was still a man of such character that his enemies said the only way they could attack him was through the requirements of his faith.”

“Our young people need to understand that a deep and vibrant faith, like that of Daniel, is priceless beyond measure,” he concludes. “We must seek ways to encourage our youth to find value in the Bible, to discipline themselves in prayer, and to share their faith with others. If we don’t, our entire civilization will suffer the consequences.”

“Daniel: God’s Messenger to our Times” (ISBN 978-0-578-05455-1) is published by Illuminosity Press. More information is available at www.illuminositypress.com. The Barna report is available at www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/403-how-teenagers-faith-practices-are-changing.

Christian Newsire 7/22/10