It is no wonder this generation’s teens are falling away from God and the church. According to Thom and Jess Ranier, in their mega study about the beliefs and values of this generation’s adults, The Millennials, “One issue millennials aren’t necessarily standing behind is religion.” They go on to conclude that while this generation of adults is perhaps the most educated of all time, millennials are destined to be known as the least religious in history. 1
“For a generation that may be known for being the most educated, the millennials may also be known as the least religious.” --Thom and Jess Ranier, The Millennials
A recent Barna Group study found that nearly half of America is unchurched. This generation’s mantra, says Barna, seems to be “we love Jesus, but not the church.” 89% of those surveyed said they made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, but those same are most notably absent from weekly worship. 2
“Our nation is falling away from Christ.” --Scott Hood, millennial youth minister
It is not hard to see why this generation’s teenagers do not see the importance of or the value of the church. Further, concludes millennial youth pastor Scott Hood, it is not surprising to find that our teens misunderstand and ultimately come to reject Christ and established church doctrine. 1
Christian pollster, Mike Nappa of The Jesus Survey, assures that all is not lost, reporting he found a strong correlation between the ‘right beliefs’ that teens have do translate into real and lasting faith.
Teens he surveyed who firmly believed in an understood the Bible’s trustworthiness, who believed that Jesus is indeed God and why, who believed Jesus lived and died for our sins, and who returned to life; and who were confident Jesus is the only way to Heaven, experienced authentic and a very real Christian life. 3
86% of these confident Christian teens surveyed claim certainty in the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding their lives, says Nappa. 94% of these same teens say Jesus has indeed answered their prayers. The data suggest that solid and clear beliefs in the Bible translate to authentic Christian lives. 3
How did this group of teens get this? What has been different in their lives that led to this conviction and in-step walk with Christ? Rick Rood contends that the church is certainly a factor in this process, but that the bulk of the impact is what parents do.
Rood explains, however, that solid Christian parents and a solid Bible-teaching church are certainly no guarantee. While the importance of parental and other external influences is without question, each teenager ultimately must make their own personal choices. In the end, teens themselves are responsible. 4
“The key to becoming a more effective parent is to become an increasingly godly person.” --Larry Crabb, Christian therapist
According to Probe Ministries Director, Rick Rood, the difference between teens who loved Jesus and went to church, and those who did one or the other, or neither, was what they saw and experienced from their parents. Committed Christian teens reported that their parents consistently exemplified authentic Christian behavior.
They prayed, they apologized, they forgave, they sought forgiveness, they read their Bible regularly and tried to live it as best they could, they accepted correction and rebuke when needed, they listened to others, they practiced tough love when necessary, and they just plainly “hung in there’ with their teens. 4
Theologian Charles Spurgeon summed it up well when he spoke of the influence of the church and parents on the Christian walk of the next generation: We need to be more about “…feeding the sheep, rather than amusing the goats.”
1. The Millennials, by Thom and Jess Ranier, 2016.
2. “Meet Those Who ‘Love Jesus but Not the Church,’” Barna Research Group, 2017.
3. The Jesus Survey, Mike Nappa, YouthMinistries.com, 2010.
4. “When Your Teen Rejects Your Values—a Christian Response,” Rick Rood, 2020.