"Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me all that I ever did.'" John 4:39 ESV
In previous generations, most Americans had some knowledge of God and Jesus and grew up hearing about Daniel, David and Moses. Church attendance was normal and expected, especially for those of influence. If you wanted to bump shoulders with the "who's who," you went to church. If a politician wanted votes, he heralded his church membership as a badge of honor.
These older generations grew up in a Christian culture with first-hand Christian memory. Not so today. Most young people were not raised in the church and therefore, have little to no Christian knowledge or experience. What was seen as common knowledge 30+ years ago is known by the slim minority now.
When trials come, young people cannot rely on memories of how God provided for them and their families in the past. They don't carry with them sweet memories of Sunday School, and classic hymns don't evoke feelings of comfort and joy.
As for the minority of young people who were raised in the church, they're in this odd place where they know belonging to a church is important but many American churches today don't resemble the one Jesus established after Pentecost. Not to mention, church affiliation is no longer the resume builder it once was. In fact, now Christianity is often associated with hate and bigotry. Today, to profess yourself as a Christian is bold; you could be harassed, threatened, fired and worse, so if you want to identify yourself as a Christian, you need to be serious about it. Our Christian culture is gone, and with it, cultural Christianity.
In the last 20 years in America, God has gone from being known by the majority, to about half and now to a minority. Fewer people have first-hand knowledge of the God of the Bible and the Church His Son established.
For some, this is discouraging, and they've lost hope. Others are just as discouraged but are bent on changing our present to look like our past. What if God is calling us to neither? Better yet, what
if He is calling us to something more? Something that resembles what He originally designed and what many young people are searching for, even if they don't realize it?
What if this lack of Christian culture is an opportunity for us as God's people to start a new chapter in Church history and pick up Jesus' baton of disciplemaking?
Let us, like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, extend a fresh, life-giving worldview to a thirsty world.
We could easily sit back and point the finger (something too many have and are currently doing) OR we could press in and take this opportunity by the horns. In the end, we're all to blame because we all fall short of God's glory and His expectations of His people. Plus, casting the blame won't solve anything.
Therefore, let us capitalize on this new chapter God is allowing us to write in Church history. Let us, like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, extend a fresh, life-giving worldview to a thirsty world. Today's Millennials and Gen Zers are the most spiritually open compared to past generations, and they live for unity and service. Sounds like a God story waiting to happen, doesn't it? So how about we start with page 1 and tell everyone about this Man who can tell us everything we ever did.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.