| March 22,
Advance for March 25, 2006
"The Last Christian Generation"
by Michael J. McManus
Are we witnessing what Josh McDowell calls "The Last Christian Generation," in
his new book by that title? Only one-third of teenagers who are part of the
church say it will be part of their lives in the future.
According to pollster George Barna, 63 percent do not believe Jesus is the Son
of God. Three-fifths believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. A stunning
51 percent do not believe Jesus rose from the dead, and two-thirds don't believe
that Satan or the Holy Spirit are real.
The consequences of this lack of faith are shocking. Christian youth are just as
likely as non-Christian youth to have lied to a parent (93 percent each).
Three-quarters of both have cheated on a test and two-thirds have physically
Barna's research reports that 98 percent of professed born-again young people
"do believe in Christ, but they do not reflect Christlike attitudes or
Important words mean different things to this generation, than to adults:
Tolerance to Christian adults means accepting others without agreeing with or
sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices. Tolerance to teens means accepting
each person's beliefs, values and lifestyles, believing that all truth claims
have equal validity.
Truth is an absolute standard of right and wrong to adults, while truth is
"whatever is right for you" to teens. Certain things are morally right or wrong
as determined by Scripture to adults while teens argue "We have no right to
judge another person's behavior."
Freedom to mature Christians means one is free to do what you ought to do, while
freedom to teens means being able to do anything you want to do.
No wonder Josh McDowell believes we are witnessing the "last Christian
generation." Probably no one in the world has met more teens, having personally
spoken to ten million young people in 84 countries on more than 700 college
campuses. He has written more than 100 books, such as "New Evidence that
Demands a Verdict" and "More Than a Carpenter."
How could 70 percent of churched teenagers believe there is no absolute moral
This attitude appeals to our kids' "desire to respect others' choices and to
refrain from judging other people's decisions," writes McDowell. "They see truth
in the area of religion and morality as a personal and private matter, and they
surmise that no one should be allowed to impose his or her own ideas of what is
right or wrong on another."
St. Paul wrote the job of the church is to help the next generation to grow "in
knowledge about God's Son, until (they) become mature, until (they) measure up
to Christ, who is the standard. Then (they) will no longer be like little
children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like
the wind" (Ephesians 4:14 GWT).
Therefore, it is time to face some hard facts.
First, the church has failed. Second, we as parents have failed.
Teenagers are actually more active than adults in church, in youth groups and
events. Kids come to youth groups for fun and fellowship but call the spiritual
devotionals given by youth leaders "boring."
Youth leaders tend to think that the problem is that the media's values promote
sexual promiscuity and the attitude that all people's perspectives are equally
However, the truth is more hopeful yet more painful. How would the typical
churched teen answer this question: "Who or what is molding and shaping your
attitudes and actions?" Fully 78 percent say "It's my parents" reports Barna.
They have three times the influence of youth leaders.
Clearly, however, parents are failing to communicate their professed values.
Teenagers are only mirroring adult attitudes, 96 percent of whom do not reflect
the attitudes or actions of Jesus. We are not living the faith we profess.
McDowell's solution is radical. Stop handing kids over to youth leaders who are
focused on events and programs. Create for kids learning in small groups like
that attended by 61 percent of evangelical adults during the week, in which
people help each other to live out Christlike characteristics: worship,
humility, a willingness to admit fault, prayer for each other's struggles.
Even more radical, parents should help youngsters by joining similar youth study
groups. "Believe it or not, our kids actually need to see us fail and seek
forgiveness. They need to see us humble ourselves and realize that we, too, are
in the process of `becoming more and more in every way like Christ," McDowell
Involved parents are the answer. For detail see www.TrueFoundations.com.
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