Young People Like the Bible but Not Church

by Ken Ham on January 18, 2016

In today’s day and age, there’s a big disconnect between what God’s Word teaches and what young people believe.

Recent research by the Barna Group found that 70% of teens aged 13–17 in America have “strong beliefs about the Bible and its teachings.” Now, sadly, while this sounds encouraging, this research doesn’t necessarily mean that teens actually believe all of what the Bible says. Research for my new coauthored book, Ready to Return, revealed that Millennials (20-somethings) within the church have a disconnect between what God’s Word says and what they believe. 72% claim God’s Word is true and historically accurate and yet 65% think good people get to heaven, 40% support gay “marriage,” 50% don’t believe in a young earth, and 20% think books other than the Bible are inspired by God. Obviously they don’t know what God’s Word teaches!

They Like the Bible but Don’t Read It

Well, this isn’t really surprising. The same research by the Barna Group that highlighted teens’ beliefs about the Bible also showed that 64% of them never read it! And our research showed that over 70% of 20-somethings have never read the Bible cover to cover.

God’s Word Is Living

As parents, we need to be encouraging our young people to get into God’s Word. This means more than just reading a few verses along with the pastor every Sunday morning. It means studying God’s Word on their own and as a family so they can know what God’s Word actually says. Remember, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Word—more than anything else—is what our young people need so their minds and hearts can be transformed.

They Like the Bible but Not the Church

Now, while research shows a generally positive view of God’s Word, it also reveals a negative view of the church. Only 55% of Millennials think churches make a positive impact in America. Why is this? Well, part of it is that even Millennials still in the church have been so influenced by the culture (as our national research shows) that they think just like the world. When they see the church standing against things like gay “marriage” and homosexual behavior, they often label it “unloving,” “intolerant,” or “phobic”—even if it’s done in a loving way—because that’s what the culture does. Actually, I often say in my public talks that the church doesn’t impact the culture like it used to because, in many ways, the culture has invaded the church!

And research for my coauthored book Already Gone showed that many young people find the church irrelevant to them because of hypocrisy they see in the church and a watering down of God’s Word. Many churches have compromised on God’s Word (or just don’t address controversial issues) and young people can see the hypocrisy of claiming God’s Word is true but then not believing what it says.

Stand on God’s Word

We need to boldly yet lovingly stand on the truth and authority of God’s Word. You see, young people accept gay “marriage,” salvation by being “good,” and other lies because they don’t understand how God’s Word should form the basis for their thinking. Instead they use what’s common to the culture to determine how they think and then they interpret the Bible in light of these ideas. But it needs to be the other way around! We need to teach young people to start with the Bible and then interpret the culture through the lens of God’s Word.

Trends in our culture’s thinking will come and go. But God’s Word remains true and unchanging throughout all ages: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

I’m thrilled that people have often commented that the message proclaimed by AiG has not changed since the ministry first began over 20 years ago—if anything, we are even more bold about our stand on God’s Word beginning in Genesis! What a difference it would make if every church and home stood so boldly and firmly.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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