It’s not much of a shock that Christianity is losing its influence in the nation. Church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading numbers have been steadily declining for years.
Millennials were the first generational group who began this religious decline. In 2015, Pew Research released findings based on faith components in younger Millennials. While 50 percent reported believing in God, only 28 percent said they attend a religious service once a week and only 38 percent said religion was very important in their life.
Although Millennials have perhaps initiated the curve in Christianity, Generation Z is categorized by the Barna Group as the first “post-Christian” generation.
Generation Z includes all of those born between 1999 and 2015. Approximately six percent of all U.S. adult groups identify as atheist, but 13 percent––more than double––of of Generation Z claims to have no belief in a higher power. Whereas 75 percent of Baby Boomers identify as Christian, only 59 percent of teens say they are affiliated with the Christian faith.
So, why the decline?
Barna Group led a study asking non-Christians of all ages what hindered them from the Christian faith. Although Generation Z had similar responses to older generational groups, one common response stood out.
According to Barna’s findings, teens and young adults struggle more than other groups to find an answer for the existence of a god who claims to be loving and good but allows so much evil.
Twenty-nine percent of Generation Z and 30 percent of Millennials said they have a hard time believing a good god would allow so much evil and suffering in the world, compared to only 22 percent of Generation X and 18 percent of Baby Boomers.
Senior Vice President of Research at Barna Brooke Hempell said, “Generation Z is different because they have grown up in a post-Christian, post-modern environment where many of them have not even been exposed to Christianity or to church.”
In other words, Generation Z is a spiritual blank slate.
Obviously, this makes the future of Christianity look dim. The faces of tomorrow are already turning up their noses at the idea of Christianity and church.
If 29 percent of Generation Z and 30 percent of Millennials have a picture painted in their minds of both a good and evil god, it says a lot about those who are Christians. For me, I understand we live in a fallen world. God has given us the gift of free will, and because of that, both good and bad will happen.
But God is not bad. God is a good god. He doesn’t “allow” bad things to happen to good people. Because of that day in the Garden, free will was bestowed to humanity, and that means there are consequences.
Just as God does not force us to love Him, He does not force us to make the right choices. Our world is broken, but it’s because of the sin of humanity, not God. Teens and young adults have not been taught this. They look at the world and see death, destruction and suffering at the hand of a god who claims to be all-loving.
If Christians and Christian leaders do not step up—if they do not practice what they believe—then we will lose these teens and young adults. If we don’t teach truth, we will lose not only Millennials and Generation Z, but also the generations to come, and the future of our faith will suffer greatly.