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Understanding the Rise of the Millennial Unbeliever

Understanding the Rise of the Millennial Unbeliever

What do you think of when you hear the word “Christian”?

How do think most college kids would answer that question?

A couple weeks ago, Chance the Rapper burst into Christian worship at the Grammys…and people didn’t know exactly how to respond. It honestly seemed out of place to see Christ glorified in a setting where He is typically ignored…even shunned.

If you watch any TV these days, it’s rare to see faith or religion thrown into the mix. Sadly, if it is, it’s often in jest, particularly portraying Christians as hypocritical or judgmental. If TV was the mirror of our society, then the majority of our population would probably be atheist, agnostic or “nones,” as Pew Research would call them. They either don’t believe in God at all, don’t know if they believe in God at all, or don’t identify with any belief in particular.

But is that the case?

The good news is that only 22.8 percent of the U.S. population would actually call themselves Atheist, Agnostic or Nothing in particular. Thirty-five percent of Millennials.

The bad news is that that percentage has grown almost 7-9 percent in the last seven years alone.

Here’s the most recent breakdown of faith in the U.S. from Pew Research:

Sure, some might find comfort in the fact that only 3 percent of the population are actual “atheists.” But when you add in 4 percent of agnostics and almost 16 percent of “nones,” that number creeps up to almost 23 percent.

Scarier yet is that 35 percent of Millennials fall in this category: “I don’t believe in anything.”

See that breakdown from each generation here:

Of the remaining 65 percent of Millennials, only about 70 percent claim to be “Christian” (which by the way, according to Pew, includes about 3 percent Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness and “other,” and we also know that just because someone’s Grandma told them they were “Christian,” it doesn’t necessarily represent their true belief. The point is…the number of those who even see Christianity as valid is plummeting).

In short, Christianity is shrinking in America, and believing nothing is on the rise (which the 2016 word of the year confirms).

I know, I know. You’re saying, “Jonathan, this is one of the most depressing blog posts you’ve written!” (I don’t know. I can think of a few others.)

Here’s the positive. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you care about this generation of young people and you want to make a difference. You are not alone.

Don’t be discouraged. Don’t you know that your work for the Lord isn’t in vain? (I Corinthians 15:58) Just last week I came across this testimony of a Christian Millennial who found her faith in NYC (Tim Keller’s church) published in an online periodical that doesn’t typically talk about faith in a positive light. These stories are out there. Churches like these are truly making disciples by teaching truth in a world that readily embraces lies.

Remind yourself that Jesus probably saw far more depressing numbers that this. When Jesus was standing looking over the “crowds” he recognized people were lost. “Harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” were his exact words. And his response was, “So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields” (Matthew 9:36-38).

Are you doing that? Are you going to your knees in prayer first? Are you praying for more workers?

If you’re a believer, you know the end of the story. Keep sharing that story. Be a beacon of love and truth in a world so full of selfishness and lies.

This morning I’m praying for all of you!

Keep up the good work!

Jonathan McKee is the president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over 20 books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller – The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife, Lori, and their three kids live in California.

This article originally appeared here.

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Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources on TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan and his wife Lori live in Northern California.