Talking to Young People about Their Worldviews (Part 1)

In a previous post, I discussed the need to engage young people where theology and community intersect, namely their worldviews. In next three posts, I would like to address generational, spiritual, and practical considerations for doing so.

How is the youngest generation among us different from preceding generations?

Generational Considerations

The generational composition of the U.S. population has changed dynamically in the past twenty years. The two youngest generations have grown to make up nearly half of the population, the ubiquitous Millennials and the newly-named Generation Z. Up until recently, the lowest age brackets have been grouped together as Millennials. However, it has become clear that these two generations are distinct in many ways.

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Talking Young People and Their Worldviews

What keeps young people in the church as adults? What are those who leave missing? What must we do to keep them?

Statistics for young people who leave the church after becoming adults have been haunting pastors, teachers, and parents since the early 2000s. As early as 2005, the Barna Group found that 61% of young adults who had been raised in evangelical homes and churches described themselves as “spiritually disengaged.” Similar statistics have been rising steadily ever since. Depending on the scope and demographics being studied, research has found that the current percentage of churched young people turning from the faith as young adults is well over 70%.

On a personal level, I see these statistics as a glaring reality. Growing up in a vibrant youth group with scores of teenagers at any given meeting, I can attest to the accuracy of the statistics. A large portion of the people I grew up with has moved away from any active involvement in church. For many, the personal connection diminished as we grew up, or else was decimated by church scandal. Many, facing the harshness of life, found few answers to the questions thrown at them by circumstances and doubts.  Now, as a youth worker and high school teacher, I have seen young people who are heavily involved in our church as teenagers go off to college, never to return. Many have found homes at other churches in other parts of the country, for which I am deeply grateful. However, at least an equal number have simply not allowed church to remain a meaningful part of their lives. A significant portion has walked away from the faith altogether.

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The Necessity of Theology

How important is theology, what we believe about God? What happens to a culture when there is a breakdown in theology? What can we do about it?

The Theology We Had

In 2005, sociologist Christian Smith, leading a project called National Study of Youth and Religion, released the findings of a monumental study in a book titled Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers. The book was the culmination of the project’s five-year study, interviewing over three thousand teenagers ages thirteen to seventeen from across the U.S. regarding their personal religious beliefs. Of all studies done on all the aspects of American teenage life, religious ideas have usually gone unnoticed. This study, however, left no stone unturned.

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Precious in His Sight

This week, those of us who follow the world of apologetics are mourning the loss of Nabeel Qureshi, who on Saturday, September 16, was overtaken in his year-long battle with stomach cancer. Nabeel was a premier up-and-coming Christian apologist. He, as we all saw it, had a bright future ahead of him as a great gift to Christianity in the ongoing debate between the Christian and Islamic worldviews. However, this weekend God saw fit to bring him home.

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