Lifeway survey of young Christians reveals decline in orthodox faith

Story in USA Today. (H/T Caffeinated Thoughts)


Most young adults today don’t pray, don’t worship and don’t read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.

If the trends continue, “the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships,” says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group’s survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they’re “really more spiritual than religious.”

Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, “many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only,” Rainer says. “Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.”

Key findings in the phone survey, conducted in August and released today:

•65% rarely or never pray with others, and 38% almost never pray by themselves either.

•65% rarely or never attend worship services.

•67% don’t read the Bible or sacred texts.

Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.

[…]The 2007 LifeWay study found seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30, both evangelical and mainline, who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. And 34% of those had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30.

Michael Snyder writing at Caffeinated Thoughts adds:

According to a recent survey by America’s Research Group, 95 percent of 20 to 29 year old evangelical Christians attended church regularly during their elementary school and middle school years. However, only 55 percent of those young evangelical Christians still attended church regularly during high school, and only 11 percent of them were still regularly attending church when they went to college.

Only 11 percent.

And that was among self-identified evangelical Christians.

But the most recent American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture at Trinity College was perhaps even more shocking.

According to that survey, 15% of Americans now say they have “no religion” – which is up from 8% in 1990. However, what was much more disturbing was that 46% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 34 indicated that they had no religion in the survey.

Those are the facts.

Here’s what we need to do in Christian churches and seminaries. We need to present Christian theology like people present chemistry. We need to consider alternative hypotheses. We need to survey opposing views. We need to host debates on core doctrines featuring non-Christians. We need to get away from the idea that Christianity is a Santa Claus myth. We need to replace praise hymns with speeches given by distinguished scholars. Apologetics should taught in Sunday school as mandatory for all age groups. Apologetics courses should be made mandatory in all evangelical seminaries.

The culture as a whole has turned more towards hedonism. There are a lot of fun things to do in life other than Christianity. Unless Christianity can provide a reason for people to avoid seeking pleasure, then Christianity’s influence will be diminished down to virtually nothing, as we see today in secular welfare-state countries in Europe. At the end of the day, leaders in the church who are more concerned about fundamentalist fideism and emotional satisfaction will be held accountable for their effectiveness, not their sincerity and good intentions. If the results are bad, then the method needs to change.


Apologetics advocacy

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