Today, I came across three different survey reports, all of them we already know, but still saddens the heart. These reports only point out what is symptomatic of the sick and continuing decline of the state of evangelicalism in America. Even more saddening is that these reports are true worldwide, e.g., in the Philippines.
- The generation gap is at its widest today since the 1960s. Almost 80 percent of Americans of different ages think they differ widely over issues of morality, values and work ethic, according to a Pew Research Center study.
- A study by a researcher at the University of Minnesota has concluded that the reason why 15 percent of teens engage in risky behavior is not because of feelings of “invincibility,” but “because they feel hopeless and figure that not much is at stake,” so they think they’re going to die young. This leads them to drug use, suicide attempts and other unsafe behavior.
- According to a research by the American Research Group, many church youth start their exodus from the churches as early as the middle school years. ARG has found a steep decline in church attendance by 20-29-year-olds: from 95 percent during their elementary and middle school years, down to 55 percent during high school, and to a measly 11 percent during college.
What are we to make of this sorry state of our youth? The answer can be found in another question: “What are we teaching our children in our homes and churches? The third research is the foundational research, while the first two are the consequences of the failure of our homes and churches in “bring[ing] them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
It astounds me (but really not a shocker) that Ken Ham of the ARG concludes that the church, especially its Sunday school, has no bearing on whether the youth retain their faith or not as they grow up. When comparing those who attended Sunday school with those who didn’t, the survey revealed that those who attended Sunday school are actually more likely to believe that many of the Bible stories they learned are myths and fables, and to have a non-Christian worldview.
This is not surprising. The typical evangelical Sunday school is mostly that: nice stories that sound like Aesop’s fables with a moral lesson. The gospel is not taught, and the stories have no connection to God’s salvation plan for believers, a far cry from what the resurrected Jesus taught his “Sunday school” disciples on the road to Emmaus:
These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled… Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:44-47).
Where is this gospel and redemptive history in Veggie Tales and Adventures in Odyssey? How is a child going to know about King David and his part in the Biblical gospel by watching Veggie Tales’ “King George and the Ducky”?
Where is the gospel in our Sunday youth “worship” and Wednesday night “Revolution,” meetings which are all fun and games?
The gospel message of Christ, “Repent and believe in the gospel,” is missing in the church. This is why there’s a generation gap, hopelessness and a huge percentage of dropouts among evangelical youth. If this trend continues, is there hope for evangelicalism’s future?