April 6, 2010
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life just released a survey called "Religion Among the Millennials." It offers some good news and some bad news about young people ages 18 to 29.
First, the bad news. According to Pew, these Millennials "are considerably less religious than older Americans." Fewer belong to any particular faith than older people do. No surprise.
But a real cause of concern is that young people today are "significantly more unaffiliated" than young people were 10 or 20 years ago. Millennials attend religious services less often than oldsters like me; they pray less, and are less likely to say that "religion is very important in their lives."
And their worldviews are skewed. More than half of young adults—including evangelicals—believe that evolution is the best explanation for the development of human life. And they are far more likely than older people to say that homosexuality is a way of life that ought to be accepted by society rather than discouraged.
The good news is that "more than three-quarters of young adults...agree that there are absolute standards of right and wrong," including 85 percent of young evangelicals. That's a dramatic improvement over earlier years. Sixty-four percent of young evangelicals agree that houses of worship should "express their views on day-to-day social and political questions." Good—depending on the views.
Finally, 88 percent of evangelicals believe the Bible is God's word, and 86 percent believe in God with "absolute certainty." Among Millennials in general, they believe in God "at rates similar to those seen among Gen Xers a decade ago."
But let's think about this. Young evangelicals believe in absolute right and wrong, they believe that God exists, and that the Bible is His word. Yet they're less likely to go to church and pray than older people, and they're more accepting of evolution and homosexuality.
The basic beliefs of young evangelicals are sound, but they are not applying them in a consistent way. This is why I believe we, the Church, must do a much better job of catechizing our young people and helping them develop a biblical worldview. We've got to give them a framework for understanding how absolute truth and the Gospel interact with all of life.
So if you are close to a young evangelical, why not engage him or her in a conversation about the Pew study? Discuss his or her beliefs, and how those beliefs stack up against biblical teachings. You might consider also ordering our worldview video series for young people called ReWired. We produced it with Ron Luce of Teen Mania.
I also recommend you introduce young people to Summit Ministries. Summit has excellent Christian worldview resources for young people. In addition, Summit's summer conferences are outstanding. They give college students a two-week crash course in worldview analysis. They'll learn how to sort out what Christianity actually teaches, as opposed to what they are absorbing from the culture. And they'll learn about the major worldviews battling Christianity for their hearts and minds—worldviews like secular humanism, Marxism, postmodernism, and Islam.
Our young people believe in absolute truth, God, and His word. That's good news. But it's clear we have got a lot of work to do to help them apply what they believe to the way they live in the world. Let's get busy.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.