Posted Jan 15, 2020 by Michael L. Brown

I was recently asked to comment on a 2018 Barna poll which revealed some disturbing, although not surprising trends. “It may come as no surprise,” the report tells us, “that the influence of Christianity in the United States is waning. Rates of church attendance, religious affiliation, belief in God, prayer and Bible-reading have been dropping for decades. Americans’ beliefs are becoming more post-Christian and, concurrently, religious identity is changing. Enter Generation Z: Born between 1999 and 2015, they are the first truly ‘post-Christian” generation.” How do we explain this?

I can assure you that it’s not because the Bible is any less true. Or the gospel is any less powerful. Or Jesus is any less risen. Or God is any less good.

To the contrary, around the globe (especially in the global South), country after country, the gospel is spreading at an extraordinary pace. And right here in America, the Spirit is moving and lives are being dramatically changed.

What, then, is the problem with Generation Z? In my view, the problem is not so much with Gen Z as with the way Gen Z was raised.

First, many of these young people have been raised in superficial Christian homes. Their parents embraced a lightweight, me-oriented, prosperity-type gospel, which is a far cry from the real gospel of Jesus.

It doesn’t transform us.

It doesn’t convict us.

It doesn’t empower us to live above sin.

It certainly doesn’t compete with the many temptations and pleasures of the age.

Instead, it affirms us and adds to us.

It makes us feel good without addressing our underlying problems.

Such a gospel cannot withstand the cravings and pressures and distractions of the world. Such a gospel will not grow stronger generationally. Instead, it loses its luster in the light of everyday life. Its lack of deep roots are exposed over time.

The lesson, then, for Christian leaders is simple: Don’t cheapen the message, deepen the message.

Second, and closely related, Gen Z’ers have not been called to leave everything and follow Jesus.

They have not been challenged to make a serious commitment. Consequently, they do not recognize the value and weight of the cross.

Twenty years ago, a young Christian man said to me, “Give me a cause, and I’ll die for it.”

I believe he was also speaking for many others of his generation – and for today’s young generation too.

Social justice calls on young people to make radical choices.

Climate change challenges them to take urgent action.

But the church? Religion? Jesus? What’s the big deal? Where’s the urgency? What is the cause?

Here too, the lesson is simple and clear: If you want to make real disciples, set the bar high, not low. Offer grace and forgiveness and mercy through the blood of Jesus, and don’t mix in manmade religious restrictions.

But then lay out the radical nature of salvation. Following Jesus means a brand new life.

Third, the Church was not ready for the onslaught of anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-Christian propaganda. And with the advent of social media, Gen Z’ers have been exposed to all kinds of objections and attacks to their faith at younger and younger ages.

Leading apologist Josh McDowell has said that the objections college students were being confronted with in the past are now influencing kids as young as 12 or 13. But, in contrast with college students, these younger kids have not developed as many critical thinking skills. Plus, in our sound bite generation, a catchy slogan or cute meme carries a lot more weight than a powerfully reasoned argument.

In his classic book God’s Smuggler, Bro. Andrew described a surprising discovery he made in his early years of ministry behind the Iron Curtain. In the country of Yugoslavia, the churches seemed to have more liberty than in other Communist countries. Yet these churches were devoid of young people.

He asked a friend about it, and the friend called up a woman who attended that church.

“Why isn’t your son Joseph here with you?” (He was 10 years old.)

She replied, “I’m an uneducated peasant. What can I do? The schools tell my son there is no God. The educated people say there is no God. Why should he believe me?” (This is a close paraphrase.)

That applies to us more than we realize today.

Generation Z’ers were born between 1999 and 2015. (Our four grandchildren fall into that category.) And 2007 was dubbed “the year of the atheist.”

That was when authors like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens came to national (and international) prominence with their frontal assaults on the Bible, God, and the Christian faith.

And while Christian intellectuals were able to counter their arguments with relative ease, those answers, for the most part, did not reach the man or woman in the pew, let alone their children.

And what of the emotional force of their arguments? Not only was an intellectual response needed, but an encounter with God was needed as well. In many churches, both were sadly lacking.

Fourth, Gen Z has grown up in the midst of LGBT activism, which, in turn, has done a terrific job of portraying Christians as hostile, primitive, bigots. Who wants to associate with them?

As for church leaders, rather than leading the way with a compassionate, uncompromising response, we have all too often retreated from the controversial issues. And by not wanting to offend, we have failed to help those struggling in our midst, not to mention failed to impact those living outside our doors.

Thankfully, the solution to all this is simple.

First, we recover our first love and passion for the Lord, seeking Him for personal revival.

Second, we get back to the biblical gospel, without dilution or mixture.

Third, we lean on the power of the Spirit, believing that a fresh encounter with Him can transform the worst of sinners.

Fourth, we get equipped in basic apologetics, using the many terrific resources available today.

Fifth, we run to the front lines of the culture rather than from them, proclaiming that God has a better way.

Churches that do this are thriving and growing, and some of their most zealous attendees are straight from Generation Z.

So, rather than looking at how bad things are – and they certainly are bad – let’s look at how ripe the harvest is.

It’s time to reap!

Sign Up or Login to post comments.

Comments

user profile
Jesus Junkie posted a comment · Mar 07, 2020
Its a good article with lots of good points. But this passage came to me before I even opened link. Simply read the title. Perhaps the Holy Spirit brought it to my mind. This article leaves out something critical Jesus said. in Mathew 24.................................. 11 Many false prophets will appear and mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures and bears up [under suffering] to the end will be saved. 14 This good news of the kingdom [the gospel] will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end [of the age] will come............................. That many are falling away and those young ones growing up distancing themselves from the church and gospel is simply prophecy unfolding. As far as the climate change thing goes the church is giving up the battle for truth by not speaking out and against it loudly. Climate alarmists believe the ice caps are going to melt and mankind faces extinction. There is no exaggeration this is their battle cry literally. How can mankind go extinct and Jesus Christ return to judge mankind if no one is around. it can't be both. If we are christians we can't believe both. It's simply not plausible. I ask all the time do people not think it's a strange twisted coincidence that the very thing God said in Genesis He'd never ever allow to happen to the Earth again is the very thing most the world is in a panic about ??????????????????????????? I think the most effective inroads to the GenZ issue brought up here is serious spiritual warfare. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. These people are walking in darkness. They are under spiritual influences that are not of God. The bible is clear about that. Those spiritual forces without a world full of Spirit filled believers coming against them is simply handing them the win.
user profile
justd85 posted a comment · Jan 31, 2020
Very good Dr. Brown. I am grateful and thrilled that critics show up to comment on your articles. I am glad they are taking the time to read and share their honest opinion about God, the Bible, Jesus, Christianity, the Jewish community, and many other related topics. It is encouraging that they keep coming back and I hope they do, especially if they keep rereading the Bible even if they doubt God exists and doubt the truthfulness of the Scriptures they at least take the time to expose themselves to the Gospel. I hope one day they will call out to the Lord from their heart and have an experience with God and that the Holy Spirit opens their eyes. But for now, I say to the skeptics and those who choose to mock Jesus and to assume that the Scriptures are fairy tales like everything else, to keep coming back. We love you and appreciate you being honest about what is in your heart. I need Jesus like the next person. May we truly know Him and serve Him.
B.W. posted a comment · Jan 20, 2020
dwinfield2@cfl.rr.com - Thank You for sharing Your powerful account of How God met you at your lowest and saved you. Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13 Powerful
dwinfield2@cfl.... posted a comment · Jan 19, 2020
You gave an experience with God as necessary to save Generation Z. I totally agree. We must have intellectual knowledge of what God tells us in the Bible, and understand it (Romans 12:2), but without an experience with God to prove to us that He is real, He knows me, He has come into my life, the intellectual side loses its power, it can and does result in our drifting away, even abandoning God and His Christ as just more words that are thrown at us in life. That happened to me. Because I never learned for certain that He is with me and in me, hears me when I pray for help, and does something about it. I went my way into sin--into disbelief, boozing and sex--until I became addicted to my sins and it wrecked my life. Out of desperation I screamed to God to save me, and He showed up. For the first time in my life so that I knew for certain that God is really real after all. I was 40. I'd been a Methodist 26 years and an Episcopalian 14, and knew the Gospel. But now I knew God. That is, I experienced God because He manifested to me. That is what saved me. His manifesting to me. Seeing His reality, I came back to Christ with a vengeance and He delivered me of my addictions and the reality of God burned deep into my soul. I no longer had faith that God is, and that He is with me, I knew it. I now had the knowing kind of faith. One that never again questioned His reality. He gave me that faith by manifesting to me, because I had literally screamed to God to save me. Just saying read your Bible and believe it and do it would not have saved my life, and my soul. No, I needed GOD!!! That was 43 years ago. Today, I see lifeless congregations among the once hot Assemblies of God where I first experienced His Presence and Power. I see young people raised in Christian Church schools showing no sign that they know God the Holy Spirit. But living their life as though they never went to church school. What happened to me can happen to them, but only if they break down and cry to God to make Jesus and the Spirit real to them. And I do not see them doing it. Instead, they run after tattoos, rock stars and a life spent ignoring God, just like the secular-unsaved. I know that Jesus said to doubting Thomas, "Blessed are those who believe without seeing me," but what if you are one of those? What if the Holy Spirit quietly at work in you, to instill faith via the Word, is not enough to spawn a powerful commitment to God and His plans and purposes in the earth today? If that is you, know this: I cried out to Him in my ruin and pain and He came. He introduced Himself. Seriously. His power or presence began to come over me; I experienced it; and things happened that had no explanation but that it was God come into my life. I found Him because in my ruin I cried out to Him because I realized I was going to die. But so many others do not? I have tried to understand that, and all I see is that I had a knowledge of the Gospel, and some experiences along the way that caused me to wonder if God might really be real. As for God manifesting Himself, He did that big-time during the years of Charismatic Renewal. Sometimes manifesting to hundreds or thousands at a time in huge meetings. The song "He Touched Me" and the formation of Women's Aglow (with the Spirit) came out of that time. God was willing to manifest, and did, as we gathered in the name of Jesus to worship, expecting God to show up. Now comes Generation Z and "Jesus who? Holy Spirit who?" Without God the Holy Spirit showing up, Christianity is lifeless to some of us. Just religion. Just words. Just something we can ignore.
user profile
Nevermind posted a comment · Jan 19, 2020
Thanks Dr. Brown as no doubt (and that was just from having gotten to Gen Z newsletters info) that came with so called food for thought this USA Sunday a.m.,something as all that anyway but again,thanks
user profile
Skeptic posted a comment · Jan 16, 2020
Delightful! Does it never occur to you that you might not have the right answers? Parental indoctrination only goes so far in an age where information is available on everyone's cell phone. Perhaps thinking about the interpretation of quantum mechanics is more fulfilling than weird stories about Jezebel? Perhaps your/the churches stands on LGBT rights are appalling and completely unfounded in the minds of the younger generation? It's somewhat ironic that your ministry is probably contributing to this trend ;-)
user profile
Swkh310 posted a comment · Jan 15, 2020
Nonsense. Gen Z’ers have witnessed the destruction of religious institutions by political zealots and they don’t want a thing to do with it.
user profile
Kidron posted a comment · Jan 15, 2020
Absolutely exceptional! Thank you Dr Brown !!
user profile
neptune posted a comment · Jan 15, 2020
Interesting article. There's actually no universal definition of Generation Z. For example, Pew Research Center defines it as those born between 1997 and 2012. And some sources extend the date of birth back to 1995.