How secular is the worldview of Christian young people today? My suspicion is that it is far more than you may think. Let me explain.
According to the Barna study on Gen Z, only 4 percent of young people today have a biblical worldview. In her book iGen, sociologist Jean Twenge comes to a similar conclusion:
“The move away from religion is no longer piecemeal, small, or uncertain; it is large and definitive. More young Americans are thoroughly secular, disconnecting completely from religion, spirituality, and the larger questions of life” (p. 132).
Story from the Front Lines
Yet how does this look practically with young people? I received an email yesterday that confirmed my research and personal experience with this generation. It came from a Talbot graduate student who teaches Bible at a solid Christian school:
“Yesterday was our first day back to school and it was a shock and blow to me. Many of our students are not Christians, which means our parents are not either. I confess I had no idea. After taking some time off, I came back last year, during COVID to teach high school students (some of whom I previously taught in middle school). My eyes have been opened, and shocked, at how this generation thinks.
I thought I knew why God led me to Biola, but I was wrong. I wanted to learn how to teach Gen Zers - to learn more about who they are, and how to engage them with grace and truth around hot button issues such as sexuality. Here’s what took me by surprise: For the first time, I realize that I am entering a classroom of mostly unbelievers. And this is a Christian school. I feel ignorant. I simply didn’t realize how much of the culture and the enemy had won. This realization is a massive shift and changes everything - my posture, my questions, my engagement...how I listen.”
I get emails like this regularly. Since it’s the beginning of a new year, I decided (with permission) to post this one to encourage and motivate you. It’s a reminder that we have a big responsibility to shepherd this generation. Don’t assume this generation thinks Christianly because they go to a Christian school, youth group, or come from a Christian family.
There is a good chance their thinking is shaped far more by secular ideas than biblical ones. That's why we have to think like missionaries to reach them.
The Privilege of Reaching a Generation
Please remember: It is a privilege to parent, pastor, mentor and teach this generation. Even though it can be challenging, let’s remember that God is the one who equips us to do His will (Hebrews 13:21).
But as this teacher pointed out, we must change everything to reach a generation shaped largely by non-biblical ideas. Everything. If we really want to equip this generation, we can't continue "business as usual." It's time for a radical change.
If you’re looking for ways to help this generation develop a Christian worldview, consider a couple steps.
Check out my recent interview with youth expert Kara Powell on Helping Students Answer the Big Questions of Life.
Consider studying apologetics with me at Biola/Talbot. I am teaching a weekend class this fall on how to reach and equip Gen Z (along with J. Warner Wallace) and would love to have you join me.
Let’s reach this generation together.