"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1 ESV
Many of us know the stats: 49% of Millennials (born 1981-1996) identify as Christian and 59% of Gen Z (1997-2015) as "some kind of Christian."* But what exactly does "identify" mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary, synonyms of identify include associate, link, relate or empathize.
Let's align this with Scripture—John 3:16, for example. Imagine if after Nicodemus asked Jesus about how to be born again, Jesus had replied, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever associates with Him should not perish but have eternal life."
Doesn't jive, does it? If the apostle Paul were alive today, I can only imagine what his response would be. But, unfortunately, that's what we are dealing with when it comes to our younger generations and their grasp on Jesus.
Is this a concern? Yes. Is this our only concern? No. Yes, these stats are terrifying, but we need to go beyond the initial shock and ask ourselves what's behind this decline.
Social media? Technology? To an extent, yes, but we need to think bigger. What about books, news outlets, schools, pastors or churches? The source of this decline extends far deeper than young people's tweets and Instagram posts.
What are they being taught about God? According to Ligonier Ministries' State of Theology survey, below are some things those aged 18-34 strongly or somewhat believed in 2020:
61% agreed God accepts worship of all religions (including Judaism and Islam)
50% agreed the Bible is not literally true but "contains helpful accounts of ancient myths"
53% agreed Jesus was a good teacher, but not God
61% agreed Biblical accounts of Jesus' resurrection are accurate and the event actually happened
Do these beliefs align with God's Word? Where are today's young adults getting this information? The answer?
Churches focusing on entertainment rather than discipleship, pastors preaching multiple ways to God, Christians choosing tolerance over righteousness. God's people abandoning Him.
So what do we do? How do we instill God's truth into today's young adults? Well, we start with The Word. Let's start preaching and living out of that and then see what God does.
*Barna defined "some kind of Christian" as those who identify as either Christian (non-Catholic) and Catholic.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.