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"Knowledge Is Power: how what you know (or don't know) impacts the younger generation"

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

1 Peter 3:15

By Drew Zuverink

"In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

The American church is facing a very real problem. More young people are leaving the Christian faith than ever before. Let me share some facts that I read in the book, "So The Next Generation Will Know" by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace.

- Born between the years 2000 and 2015, "Gen Z" is quickly becoming the largest generation in America.

- Gen Z is projected to very quickly become the largest demographic group in the world (comprising 32% of the global population.)

- The percentage of teens who identify as atheist is twice that of the general population.

- Approximately 40-50% of youth group students struggle in their faith after graduating high school.

This is not a minor issue. The state of the Christian faith in America will soon be in the hands of the next generation, but the next generation is finding the Christian faith less and less appealing. Why though? Why are so many young people leaving the Christian faith?

What do you think?

Seriously, pause for a moment and think about why you think they're leaving.

Perhaps you think it's because young people are hedonistic pleasure seekers who reject the morality that Christianity teaches. Or maybe you think it's because young people are anti-tradition and want to find their own way to do things. Maybe you think it's because they're lazy, or rebellious, or dumb, or just flat out sinful. I don't know what you think, but let me share what they say some of the reasons are.

"Some stuff is just too far fetched for me to believe."

"I have too many questions that can't be answered."

"I learned about evolution when I went to college."

"There isn't any scientific evidence for a creator."

"I just realized somewhere along the line that I didn't really believe it."

"Because I grew up and realized it was a story like Santa or the Easter Bunny."

"I'm doing more learning, studying, and kind of making decisions for myself rather than listening to someone else."

"As I learn more about the world around me and understand things that I once did not, I find that the thought of an all-powerful being is less and less believable."

"I have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world."

What do all of those quotes have in common? Intellectual skepticism. Young people want intellectual, reasonable, evidence based answers for their questions. They are seeking a worldview that makes sense of reality. In other words, the battleground for the Christian faith seems to be in the realm of knowledge. Young people are smart, they have access to more information than ever before and they want good answers to their questions. Literally, whether they stay in the church or not, often depends on the quality of the answers they receive.

I don't fault the young people for this. Asking questions and seeking answers is a good thing. They are on the pursuit of truth. The question is, now that you know how many young people end up leaving Christianity, and now that you know why they usually leave, will you do anything to help? Will you spend the time to learn the answers to the questions that young people have? Will you ask them what those questions are? Will you be brave enough to ask the questions yourself? Do you know why you believe what you do? Can you explain it if someone asks?

Peter said to always be prepared with answers when people ask us for reasons to believe. It's possible that there has never been a time where that is more crucial than right now. I understand that not everyone likes to read. I understand that it takes time to listen to podcasts or to watch a YouTube video. I understand that however you do it, studying the evidence for Christianity will cost you time and energy. But go and read the statistics again. Not taking the time to look into these things is costly in a different way. It could cost the church another young person.

So if you are a parent, a youth volunteer, a coach, a youth pastor, a pastor, an aunt, an uncle, or anyone who spends time around young people - will you help them?

Will you ask them questions like, "What do you think is the most difficult thing to believe about Christianity?" Or, "Of all the things that the pastor said today, what seems the most difficult to believe?" Or, "What do your skeptical friends say about Christianity?" And will you be patient and understanding enough to hear them out without getting defensive? Will you love them enough to allow them the freedom to ask tough questions?

And then will you ask yourself, "What do I need to know to help the young people in my life answer the questions they have about Christianity?"

You don't need to and no one is going to force you to do these things. I'm also not trying to shame anyone who might not have the answers yet either. Most of us didn't know that this was such a big deal. But we need to be honest with ourselves, and accept the responsibility that what we know (or don't know) impacts the young people in our lives.

Recourses to get you started:

"I Don't Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist." (BOOK) by Frank Turek

"I Don't Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist." (PODCAST) by Frank Turek

"So The Next Generation Will Know." (BOOK) by Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace

"Dr. Sean McDowell." (YOUTUBE CHANNEL)


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