Only 45 percent of Christian teens shared their faith in the last year with someone holding different religious views—down from 63 percent who said they did so when asked 12 years ago—according to a new study released July 12 by The Barna Group.
The study, which compared results from the most recent survey of teens in 2009 with prior research going back to 1997, tracked the involvement of teens in both personal and group expressions of faith. The good news? Nearly 6 out of 10 teens took part in some type of spiritual group activity in a typical week. The bad news? Out of 9 different forms of religious involvement that were assessed, 6 were at their lowest levels ever.
In addition to the decline in how many teens shared their faith, other areas also reflected a downturn. Sunday school participation, small group attendance, donating money—and even prayer—had all declined in the last 12 years, researchers found.
Based on his interaction with NextGen leaders and students across the U.S., Kelly Fellows, National NextGen Minister for The Foursquare Church, believes there are many factors that can be attributed to the statistical decline of Christian teens sharing their faith.
“Some of those factors,” Kelly told Foursquare.org, “include society and pop culture constantly pushing the importance of diversity in ‘faiths’ and ‘lifestyles,’ all in the name of tolerance; Christian teens lacking confidence in their beliefs due to insufficient discipleship; and a generation that is accustom to raw, genuine reality and instant information, from YouTube to Twitter.”
As one young adult recently told Kelly, “The only group that is still scripted and predictable is the church.” Numerous high-profile moral failures have also caused youth to view the church as a place where leadership can’t be trusted, Kelly notes, adding that their perception is that leadership lacks integrity.
Foursquare leaders across the country have been working diligently to see a turnaround for the youth of our nation.
“Through district camps and conferences, Foursquare NextGen representatives are developing comprehensive training for those who work with the emerging generation,” affirms Kelly. “In addition, they are identifying practical discipleship resources that will help equip kids and teens with the tools they need to share their faith.”
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles