Earlier this year, the Barna Group, a Christian polling organization, released a new survey finding that Generation Z (born after 1999) was the least Christian generation ever. One of the biggest findings was that nearly twice as many teenagers in Gen Z (13 percent) claimed to be atheists than Millennials (7 percent).
It was a huge jump and evangelical Christianity has only taken a bigger hit since that survey was done thanks to white evangelicals’ overwhelming support for Donald Trump.
Jonathan Morrow of Fox News — and someone who worked on the survey — can’t believe these changes are happening. To him, they signal a problem with churches in that they’re not properly preparing children to enter the real world where their faith will inevitably be challenged.
So why is the fact that Gen Z is less Christian than ever good news again? Because we need to stop pretending and start living in reality.
We need to stop pretending that if we entertain teenagers then they will stick around after they graduate.We need to stop pretending that if we protect them from everything they won’t question, doubt, or walk away.
And we need to stop pretending that a few minutes of a moralistic, watered down Bible lesson on a Sunday morning will prepare them to stand firm in their faith.
In short, teenagers need a grown-up worldview, not coloring book Jesus.
We can do better.
There’s obvious irony in people who believe Jesus was magic telling fellow Christians they “need to stop pretending and start living in reality.”
Finally living in reality is why so many members of Generation Z aren’t returning to church.
More importantly, the idea that young evangelicals are simply not strong enough in their faith is missing the point. They leave Christianity for a number of reasons, including evangelicals’ warm embrace of the Republican Party, their opposition to LGBTQ rights, their ignorance on the subject of sex education and science literacy, their hypocrisy on opposing both abortion and contraception, their treatment of women, and because Gen Z realizes the myths they’ve been fed are just not true.
Telling the same lies louder and more confidently won’t fix the problem. Whenever those teenagers learn to ask tough questions and think critically, the faith is bound to topple. And there are more resources available now than ever before to help them break the spell.
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