I am writing this article not with a "the sky is falling" attitude, but rather from a honest look at where we are now and where we may be headed in the next 5 years based on current trends.
As the title says, I'm extremely concerned about the spiritual fate of the next generation. Here's why...
We don't currently have enough strong churches to meet the needs of kids and families.
Each year, over 3,700 churches close their doors. The good news is each year over 4,000 new churches are planted. Even with that, this is not enough churches to reach the growing American population. By 2050, the U.S. population will top 400 million.
More families are disengaging from the local church. By 2050, the number of believers who do not attend church, will double, going from 17% to 30%.
North America is the only continent in the world where the church is not growing. The North American church is in decline. While there are pockets of growth, most denominations and even contemporary churches are shrinking.
Waves of young people are walking away from the faith. If current trends continue, an estimated 35 million kids who were raised in a Christian home, will walk away from the faith.
Another concern is the lack of passion for Christ among parents and even church leaders. The faith that is passed to the next generation must be one that is concentrated on Christ and is on fire for the world to know Him.
I'm also concerned that we are raising "good kids" instead of "Gospel kids." We are using the limited time we have kids at church to teach them "character traits." This may result in lots of "good kids," but not kids who are grounded in the faith. Kids who don't know why they believe what they believe. Kids who won't be prepared to face the tough questions they will be confronted with in high school and college. Our teaching must go deeper - deep enough that kids know the doctrines of the faith and how to defend it.
If a child cannot defend their faith, there's a strong probability that they will walk away from their faith.
Lack of evangelism. While many Millennial adults say they know how to share their faith, they also think it is wrong to share their personal faith journey with someone of another faith. 47% of Millennials say it is wrong to share your personal belief's with someone of a different faith. This line of thinking is grounded in Post Modernism and lessens people's passion to share their faith.
Increased activities on Sunday. Today's families have more choices on Sunday. There are lots of activities that have taken over. Working on Sunday. Sports activities including traveling teams on Sunday. Games that used to be played on Saturday now happen on Sunday. Outdoor activities like boating, camping, etc. Sunday is no longer a day that is set aside for worship.
Misplaced priorities of parents. When parents skip church, it conveys that church is just another activity you can choose from a list of activities. Look at this convicting statement from Carl Trueman. Carl is one of America's foremost Christian voices and an accomplished church historian.
“The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday. If the sun shines out and their friends are going to the beach, do you decide to skip church and go to the beach? In which case, you send signals to your children that it is not important.”
How we must respond...
Have a contagious faith. Students who own their faith, have watched Christian leaders who were passionate about living for Christ. They have rubbed shoulders with Christians who bring Jesus into every area of their life. If we want the next generation to have a passionate faith, then we must first demonstrate it in our lives. Maybe the reason kids are walking away from the faith is because we didn't show any love or passion for Christ.
We must get our priorities in order. The next generation must see in us a passionate commitment to Christ. We must remove the idols we have put above Jesus with and get back to putting Him first. When we go to church when it's convenient or nothing else is going on, it is saying to the next generation that church doesn't have to be a top priority.
And think about this with me. The average family now attends church once or twice a month. That is considered "faithful." This means kids are missing 50-75% of the lessons. If this continues, kids are going to be walking out of our ministries with little to no understanding of God's Word and His plan for our lives.
But there is much hope. With people disengaging or having never been engaged, we have a tremendous opportunity to reach kids and families with the Gospel. If we will step up and minister in the power of the Gospel, we can see the next generation reached for Christ.
Will you join us in this cause?