Will the Next Generation of Kids Believe the Bible? The Latest Findings

The latest findings from Gallup Polls show that only 24% of Americans now believe the Bible is the literal Word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.  26% view it as a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.

This is the first time in 40 years that Biblical literalism has not surpassed Biblical skepticism.  About half of Americans fall in the middle, saying the Bible is the inspired Word of God but that not all of it should be taken literally.

From the mid-1970s through 1984, close to 40% of Americans considered the Bible the literal word of God, but this has been declining ever since, along with a shrinking percentage of self-identified Christians in the U.S.  Meanwhile, the percentage defining the Bible as mere stories has doubled, with much of that change occurring in the past three years.  Still, while Biblical literalism has waned, the vast majority of Americans -- 71% -- continue to view the Bible as a holy document, believing it is at least God-inspired, if not God's own words.

According to a National Study of Youth and Religion, a significant majority of teens still believe in God.  But this has also declined from 84% in 2002 to 78% today.  Sociologist Patricia Snell Herzon says, "A large majority believe that religion is important, but they become less actively involved as they age through adolescence.  Religion is just there in the background.  We describe it as the furniture of their life."

Many teens also have a distorted view of God, embracing what is called "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."  This consists of beliefs like these:

1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about ones self.
 4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die. 

Other research shows that Americans are five times less likely to pray now as compared to the early 1980's.  Since 2004, fifty percent more Americans say they never pray.  Among Millennials, who are the parents of the next generation, 24% say they never prayed in an entire year.  

These trends should be a wake up call for all of us.  If it continues, an even smaller percentage of the next generation will believe the Bible is the Word of God, much less have a relationship with Him.

First of all, we must teach the kids who are attending our churches, WHY we believe the Bible is the Word of God.  They must know why they believe what they believe or they will more than likely be swept away by a culture that continues to walk farther away from God.  A good place to start is with this apologetics series.

We must also give the next generation a true picture of who God is.  This comes back to the Word of God.  A true picture of who God is comes from a true understanding of what the Bible teaches about God.

We must reach Millennial parents.  If we are to reach the next generation, we must reach those who influence them the most, their parents.  Reach Millennial parents and you will reach Gen Z. 

We must also help kids move beyond just knowing about God to really knowing God.  If He is simply a piece of furniture as stated, they will push Him aside as they grow older.  But if we are able to help them discover a true relationship with a living, true God, they can continue to grow closer to Him and deeper in their faith each year.

Stats can be seem empty and cold.  But what these stats represent are kids, moms, dads and grandparents who desperately need Jesus.  Real kids and families in your neighborhood and mine. 

We can look at these stats and be discouraged or we can renew our prayers, efforts and commitment to reach the next generation like never before.  The Gospel is just as powerful as ever.  One encounter with Jesus can change their life forever.  God is still at work.  He is simply looking for someone to say, "Here am I Lord, send me!"

Let's reach the next generation!