According to a recent Barna study, the generation that follows the millennials, Gen Z, is the least Christian generation. Thirty four percent of Gen Z’s religious affiliation either is none, agnostic, or atheist. As a matter of fact, teenagers from the ages of 13 to 18 are two times as likely as adults to claim they’re atheist. Only 3 in 5 teens (59%) in that same category claim they’re some type of Christian.
Most Christian teenagers are merely unprepared for the world awaiting them. Parents bubble wrap their children and craft Disney World–like atmosphere for them in church, with the best of intentions then wonder why they don’t have any resilience in life or faith. Students are well-entertained yet aren’t prepared. They have had a ton of fun; however, aren’t prepared to lead. As the pressure to conform is turned up, Christian teens usually wilt if they don’t possess the confidence which only derives from knowing why they believe what it is that they believe. According to one teen, ‘following Christ today is difficult because you feel like the only one.’
Teens are Confused, and Culture is Changing Quickly
This generation has been discipled by their cell phones, taught sexual education by Google, as well as conditioned to assume that because they believe in something will make it true.
Christianity isn’t a fairytale for adults made up to make them feel better. Christ followers’ do not have anything to fear from challenging conversations, doubts, and tough questions. This generation must know Christians love the truth.
Let Us Stop Pretending
How is it good news that this generation is less Christian? Because adults must stop pretending and begin to live in reality.
We must stop pretending that if adults entertain teens, they’ll stay around after graduating.
We must stop pretending that if adults shield them from everything they will not walk away, doubt, or question.
We must stop pretending that a couple of minutes of a watered down, moralistic Bible lesson on Sunday morning is going to get them ready to stand solid in their faith.
Teens need an adult worldview, not coloring book Christ.
We should do better.
By the time teens ought to be owning their faith, we already have lost their attention and our culture captured their attention.
Attendance Isn’t Enough
We must reject the concept that if teens just go to church enough they’ll build a firm faith. This attendance model isn’t working—and training is needed.
As our post-Christian culture marginalizes Christianity more and more, it’s important for those of us who really care about this generation not to take the business-as-usual approach to their Christian formation. If we don’t do anything they’ll be shaped away from life with the Lord. We now have the chance to rethink what passing on our faith to the Gen Z looks like in this cultural moment. First, we have to stop pretending.
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