How the 20s Are Changing America

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Right after I had drafted this article, I read many news headlines that appeared across America and around the world about a shocking Pew Research Study, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” CNN’s website on May 15 had a headline that summarized the Pew survey this way: “Millennials Leaving Church in Droves.”

Yes, Pew and news reports clearly show that Christianity is sadly declining in America.

The actual Pew report stated, “But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014.”1

The study continued: “Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated—describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’—has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2%, from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014.”2

This Pew report just confirms the alarm AiG has been sounding for years about the state of Christianity in America, and the dire need to proclaim the truth of God’s Word and the gospel with boldness, as we are doing at AiG—through the Creation Museum, life-size Ark, and so on.

As we ponder the negative cultural changes that are escalating before our eyes, I recall what my wife has often said to me:

My heart aches as I think about the culture our grandchildren are growing up in—what are they going to be dealing with? It’s so important we help train them to stand solidly on God’s Word, knowing how to defend the faith. They are going to have so many pressures to deal with if the anti-Christian sentiment keeps growing as it is—I pray God will protect them and help them to be strong in their faith!

Imagine that you could open a special window and look into the future to see where America will be spiritually in coming generations. What would we see?

Actually, Answers in Genesis has already opened that window—in fact, two windows. And what we see burdens us even more to begin to ramp up more outreaches to disseminate the truth of God’s Word and the gospel as we “contend for the faith.”

  • Window 1: Toward the end of 2014, we asked America’s Research Group (ARG) to analyze the state of the 20s (and 40s) age groups in our churches. You will be shocked at what we found. (More about that later.)
  • Window 2: Earlier this year, we contracted with ARG to conduct a general population study to determine how many people will come to the life-size Ark when it’s opened. Actually, this well-focused research (of both non-Christians and Christians) resulted in ARG predicting an even greater minimum attendance at the Ark than it previously estimated (i.e., it’s now a projection of 1.4 million guests in year one and as high as 2.2 million).

The Ark Encounter is going to be one of the greatest Christian attractions on earth, as God blesses—one that reaches the church and culture with the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.

What a crucial time it is right now to very . . . call the church and culture back to the authority of the Word of God.

As part of the ARG research, we wanted to gauge the spiritual state of the general population. When you specifically consider the 20 somethings (ages 20–29), you can get a glimpse of what the “new America” will be if this culture continues on the same downward spiral.

What a crucial time it is right now to very publicly, boldly, and unashamedly “contend for the faith” and call the church and culture back to the authority of the Word of God.

Let me share just some of the AiG/ARG results. Now, there will be many more details that will be released this fall in a new book I am authoring titled Ready to Return.

Let’s take a look through the “windows of the future.”

Window 1

Looking at the 20s age group in churches today (often called the Millennials), out of this group will be the leaders of the culture. The spiritual state of these Millennials provides a look into the future of America!

Of those now in their 20s who attend church regularly:

  1. Over 40% state they are not born again.
  2. 35% state the Bible has errors or they don’t know if it has errors.
  3. Close to 90% attend or attended public school.
  4. Over 20% left school believing the Bible was less true.
  5. Over 45% said they were not taught to defend their faith at Sunday school.
  6. 45% say either homosexual behavior is not a sin or they don’t know if it is a sin.
  7. 40% believe “gay couples” should be allowed to marry and have legal rights.
  8. 20% believe there are other books (other than the Bible) that are inspired by God.
  9. 65% believe if you are a good person you will go to heaven.

Now, our research also showed conclusively that the issue of the age of the Earth/universe was one of the major factors causing this generation to doubt that the Bible can be trusted.

Don’t you just sigh when you read statistics like the ones above? Aren’t you deeply troubled and tremendously burdened about the Millennials who attend our churches?

Window 2

In a general population study conducted for the Ark (i.e., not just of Millennials and not just Christians), our researchers discovered the following:

  1. Of those who are now in their 60s and regularly attended church as children, 22% of them had stopped attending, but 53% of the 20s age group had already stopped.
  2. 86% of the 60s age group believe Noah’s Ark was actually built, but only 52% of those in their 20s believe this.
  3. 60% of the 60s age group believe the Christian faith is under attack today, but only 34% of the 20s group.

There is much more revealing data that offer sad results that came out of this national study. There is no doubt that those in their 20s—both inside the church and out—are much more secular in their thinking and actions than previous generations.

As Scripture reveals, it can take only one generation to lose a culture. Today, we certainly witness the loss of the once predominantly Christianized worldview in our society. The detailed research we conducted through ARG (and which confirms studies by other groups) makes it very clear that the beliefs of the 20s age group have created a tipping point in the culture.

This generation—the Millennials—will create a fundamentally new America if things don’t change.

Now back in 2009, Answers in Genesis published the book Already Gone. It included eye-opening research by ARG about those in their 20s who once attended church regularly but had left the church. It revealed that nearly two-thirds of these Millennials had departed.

Well, we have found out again—this time in our new 2014 research on the church—that the acceptance of 1) the idea of millions of years by the majority of church leaders, 2) the lack of teaching of apologetics in churches and Christian homes, and 3) the effect of public school education are hands down the major reasons the 20s are leaving the church.

People in their 20s have an increasingly secular worldview.

Overall, from within and without the church, people in their 20s have an increasingly secular worldview. And most Millennials who still attend church don’t understand Christianity.

Back in 2011, AiG and ARG published the book Already Compromised. It surveyed the state of generally conservative Christian universities, Bible colleges, and seminaries.

In this revealing study, the beliefs and teachings of their presidents, vice-presidents, and heads of the science and religion/Bible departments were examined. Sadly, we found that the majority of these schools believe in millions of years. We also found many other shocking and revealing statistics regarding the sad state of the majority of these institutions.

So, that’s the bad news! And in reality, it’s much worse than the summary I’ve given you.

But what can we do to counter these bad trends? Yes, it can seem so overwhelming at times. Many people have told me they feel like giving up—waiting for Jesus to come.

We must listen to God’s Word and its instruction. In Luke 19 we read a parable by Jesus: “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come’” (Luke 19:12–14). One translation states “occupy till I come.”

Jesus is teaching us that He gives Christians (His servants) the gifts to be used in the business of His work, until He comes. The point is: we need to be faithful in being about the Master’s work—regardless of what we see happening around us. Now, we don’t know where we are today in the timeline of the last days. But if anything, we need to be more fired up and show more “righteous anger” (like Nehemiah) in proclaiming the truth of God’s Word.

We have been doing our best at AiG to proclaim the truths of God’s Word through conferences, resources, our well-trafficked world-class website, radio program, the high-tech Creation Museum, and the evangelistic Ark Encounter (that will attract over 1.4 million people each year).

AiG is reaching millions with God’s truth that today’s generations so desperately need to heed. The support you give to this creation/gospel ministry is being used by God to honor His Word and proclaim the gospel to millions. Thank you!

Footnotes

  1. “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” Pew Research Center, May 12, 2015, http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/.
  2. Ibid.

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