We will not hide them from their descendants, we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4
For close to two years, I have been writing posts on mentoring. It often involves studying trends and cultural changes of the millennials (Gen Y), and now Gen Z (those born after 1999). The purpose is to help the older generation understand what makes them different, which will aid in mentoring them.
For those of you who don’t know what or who “Nones” are, it is a term that comes from the U.S. Census form which is done every ten years. The “Nones” are those adults who don’t identify with any religion. On the census form, they check the box “None” instead of a box with a recognized religion such as Christian, Jewish, Moslem, etc.
According to Pew based on a 2016 study, it is one of the most striking trend in recent years. Most of those (78%) who say they are a “None” were raised as a member of a particular religion “before shedding their religious identity in adulthood”.
Now we have Gen Z (those born between 1999-2015), which is the first generation born in a “post-Christian” culture. “More than any generation before them, Gen Z does not assert a religious identity.”
As if we needed any more proof that the influence of Christianity in the U.S. is waning, As I noted in an earlier post entitled “Spirituality”, they are drawn to things that are spiritual, but have a vastly different beginning point.
Based on a recent Barna study, atheism has doubled in Gen Z compared to the general population (13% versus 6% in the general population). The word “Atheist” is no longer a dirty word.
Teens are having a hard time incorporating the existence of evil with a good and loving God. They also think Christians are hypocrites, and some say that science refutes too much of the bible
Gen Z differs from older adults who are critical of hypocritical Christians, but they are equally likely to have had a bad experience with the church or with a Christian.
Lastly, they follow in the footsteps of the Millennials who single-handedly turned public opinion in 10 years in favor of same-sex marriages. Gen Z is actually less inclined to cite political issues like LGBTQ rights poverty or immigration policy as a factor in the aversion to Christianity.
Why this change? I think there are lots of reasons, not just the cultural shift into a post-Christian world. The breakdown of the nuclear family and single parent homes is a factor as described in the book “Coming Apart”, was written by a sociologist looking back over social trends of the last 50 years.
Our public-school education system also should have a spotlight put on it, particularly when you read scary trends as in the City of Edina, Minnesota, an upscale suburb of Minneapolis. In 2013, the public school system in Edina adopted an “All for All” plan which placed teaching about social justice above all other priorities.
For decades, the Edina schools were among the best for decades. Not surprising, basic learning skills in math and English have tumbled and students increasingly fear bullying and persecution. At the center is their obsession to highlight “white privilege”.
A course description of a high school course contained this statement: “By the end of the year, you will have . . . learned how to apply Marxist, feminist, post-colonial [and] psychoanalytical . . .lenses to literature.”
In the middle school, they have a blog that approves of Black Lives Matter and also has a picture of a protestor with a sign that says, “Gay Marriage is Our Right.”
Many public schools are not as overt, but I can’t help but think that the public-school system has lost its way in teaching respect, ethics and basic principles of freedom and equality, not to mention basic skills in English and math.
These trends are disturbing. How do we respond as Christians to the next generation that has started out with the spiritual deck stacked against them? Parents, schools, and often individual Christians and churches have let them down.
The challenge here is that we, as parents and mentors, need to sharpen our skills in our ability to cogently describe why Christianity is important and relevant. The Christian world view is declining, and it is up to each and every one of us to step up our game.
We also need to look in the mirror and see what the world sees. Does our lifestyle rooted in Christianity look anything different from anybody else? That’s a personal challenge to every Christian: we should be modeling Christ wherever we are.
Christ called us to go and make disciples of all nations. He didn’t say sit back in your rocker wringing your hands at cultural changes. Mentors are in a unique position of gaining trust of those in the next generation. The vast majority of young people want a mentor.
Even though millennials and Gen Z are skeptical of organized religion, a Christian mentor has no such baggage. Walking beside a member of the next generation is biblical. It’s how Jesus taught the disciples.
FURTHER STUDY: The first two articles give more depth as to reasons for the rise of Nones and increase in Atheism. Why America’s Nones left Religion Behind: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/
The Doubling of Atheism in Generation Z: https://www.barna.com/research/atheism-doubles-among-generation-z/
The Edina Public School System’s lurch to become a Social Justice Factory: http://www.weeklystandard.com/inside-a-public-school-social-justice-factory/article/2011402
WORSHIP: Listen to Hillsong sing “The Stand” which reminds us that our battle is not just with flesh and blood from Ephesians 6: The Stand – Hillsong – YouTube
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