“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (I Timothy 4:12
As parents raise their children, they are commanded to teach them the “way they should go.” From generation to generation, God expects the message of His love, grace, and forgiveness to be passed down. Somewhere along the way, our children are becoming spiritually abandoned.
The Religiously Unaffiliated
In America, the rise of the “religiously unaffiliated” is growing at a rapid rate with the largest group being young adults. The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) conducted a survey in 2016 and found “one-quarter (25%) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest “religious group” in the U.S.”
The vast majority of unaffiliated are ex-Christians under the age of 35. The PRRI also discovered that “More than six in ten (62%) religiously unaffiliated Americans who were raised in a religion say they abandoned their childhood religion before they turned 18.”
Globally, the religiously unaffiliated make up a majority of the population in six countries, of which China is by far the largest (The others are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hong Kong, Japan and North Korea.), according to a 2012 Pew Research study.
The Reasons They Leave
Young adults in America give a number of reasons for leaving the church. In a USA Today article, “96% cited life changes, mainly moving to college, as the main reason they stopped attending church. In addition, 73% said they chose to leave because they felt judged, knew of hypocritical church members, or they disagreed with the church’s stance on politics and social issues.
In other parts of the world, young adults are clearly not interested in learning more about God. Only 19% of youth surveyed in England, Scotland, and Wales said their faith or religion was important to them. In fact, one study found “from about 2007 to 2019, the overwhelming majority of the countries studied—43 out of 49—became less religious.”
Many young adults around the world have experienced a lifetime of brokenness. Divorce and subsequent single parenting has played a major part in America’s youth not attending church. Parents with two different faiths also divide a child’s interest.
Opioid addictions, mental health issues, out-of-wedlock births, and poverty are other reasons for young adults to abandon their faith. It often comes down to feeling devalued in some way.
Train A Child
For whatever reasons, older generations of Americans have failed to pass along their Christian faith to the next generation. Clearly, Christians have ignored the command to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Generation Z (those born between 1999 and 2015) is known as the most diverse generation yet. In that diversity comes dislike of God and the church based on a churches unacceptance of gays and the LGBTQ movement. This next generation is called “post-Christian” and they are the least religious generation yet.
Being Made Aware
In countries where young people face the constant threat of death due to famine, war or improper health care, they need to be made aware of the One who offers hope.
Here in America, we must find a way to reach the youngest generation. Their confidence in technology has driven them away from meaningful relationships, most importantly a relationship with God. The Father desires a personal, intimate, one-on-one relationship with us. Young adults can learn about Him through technology, but they will never experience Him, but they will never fully own that relationship without personal one-on-one time with Christ.
Reaching and Elevating
It is imperative that the global community do everything possible to reach and change our younger generations for the cause of life. We must help them understand and value their true identity in Christ. When you know your worth in Christ, it is much harder to fall away. Will you help us reach them and teach them about the sacredness of human life which is theirs in full?