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Current generation faces religious crisis as more than 8 million young adults turn from biblical upbringing
August signals the beginning of the back-to-school whirlwind. University campuses around the nation become charged with eager young minds as academia once again resumes its precedence.
Yet the one criterion college students will unlikely find listed in course syllabi this year is the one foundational element our generation needs most: truth.
According to social analysts, an alarming trend popularly entitled the “rise of the nones” has gripped a major concentration of Millennials. The title originates from the March 2013 survey held by the University of California, Berkeley and Duke University, which found religious affiliation among the millennial generation to have hit its lowest point in recorded history.
In order to assess the concerning statistics, the Barna Group conducted a study on Americans ranging from ages 18-29. The research reveals that 59 percent of once-active church-attending Millennials within this age group will drop out of regular attendance, amounting to more than 8 million “nones” renouncing church and Christianity.
The trend of disengagement is sobering. How profoundly and significantly the face of our country has changed since cultural movements such as the Great Awakening.
Yet as I read the statistics in broken-hearted sorrow, some look upon the trend as a victory for our nation. Gary Laderman, chair of the Department of Religion at Emory University, recently stated his approval in an article to The Huffington Post.
“The rise of the ‘nones’ surely suggests it is the end of religion as we know it,” Laderman wrote. “Forget churches; forget priests and pastors; forget the Bible; forget organized religion generally.”
The statement appears confident and charming — only Laderman and his colleagues have overlooked one very crucial piece to the puzzle of life.
There is no forgetting the Bible, and there is certainly no forgetting Christ. If there is one thing in our existence that is irrefutable, it is God’s sovereign reign and ultimate triumph.
I, for one, refuse to believe the lie that the future of the church is lost. Christ is still returning for his bride.
My question, then, is not the validity of Laderman’s statement that Christianity has reached its end, but rather what Christians are currently doing to rescue the millions of spiritually homeless young adults.
The difficulty of doubt is not unique to this generation. Job disputed God. Jacob struggled with an angel. Thomas doubted the resurrection. Jesus hesitated in the garden and questioned on the cross.
Seasons of uncertainty and confusion can be transformed into moments of grace. Author and theologian C.S. Lewis captures this idea best in his work “Mere Christianity.”
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world,” Lewis wrote.
As my mom often reminded me growing up, we do not serve a God of statistics. Instead of settling for shifting spiritual ground in our nation, let us disciple the upcoming generations to find their sense of home in the church, to fight for faith, and to replace fear and doubt with a yearning to wrestle for truth.
“The trend of disengagement is sobering. How profoundly and significantly the face of our country has changed. ”
— Gabriella Fuller