So the Next Generation Will Know
eBook - ePub

So the Next Generation Will Know

Preparing Young Christians for a Challenging World

Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace

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  1. 208 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

So the Next Generation Will Know

Preparing Young Christians for a Challenging World

Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace

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About This Book

Whether you're a Christian parent, youth leader, or educator who works with Generation Z, this book was written for you. As powerful ideas in our increasingly secular culture shape more of this generation, trusted leaders must share what they know about Jesus in ways that will reach them. But how? Backed by the latest research and first hand experience, this powerful book shows how to share biblical truth with a generation that desperately needs to hear it in a way that draws them in instead of pushing them away.

Written by two youth influencers and experts on Generation Z, Sean McDowell, Ph.D., and J. Warner Wallace, So the Next Generation Will Know is an extraordinarily practical and relatable guide for anyone concerned with ensuring the next generation understands and embraces a biblical worldview. This interactive study guide includes a free QR code and URL to access all eight videos, plus additional content for engaging study as a group or on your own. To aid you in your planning, following are the session titles and video run times: 1 Love Responds 11: 42
2 Love Understands 11: 06
3 Love Relates 10: 33
4 Love Equips 10: 22
5 Love Ignites 10: 53
6 Love Trains 11: 10
7 Love Explores 11: 31
8 Love Engages 11: 35

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David C Cook


Do You Love Me?

Making Young People Our Priority

Chapter 1

Love Responds

Examining the Challenge Before Us

Challenges require a response, and the church is facing a true challenge: young people in America and Europe are leaving the Christian church at an unprecedented rate.
I (J. Warner) first noticed the problem when I was a youth pastor. I took over leadership from my energetic, young predecessor, who had grown the group into a robust, engaged collection of junior high and high school students. Many had been raised together in the church, and they invited their friends to join the group. As a result, our students had deep relationships that bound them together.
In my first year as their pastor, I leaned heavily on my training as an artist (I have a BA in design and an MA in architecture). Our meetings were interactive, artistic, and experiential, incorporating music, imagery, and other sensory elements. The students seemed to enjoy the approach, and over time the group grew even larger.
But our results were terrible.
Not long after graduating the first seniors, we found that most of them walked away from Christianity in the initial weeks of their freshman year at college. Many of our current students were still in touch with these new nonbelievers, and when I heard that they now rejected the existence of God, I was crushed, and I accepted the blame.
In the year since becoming their pastor, I had come to love these students. I felt a paternal responsibility to them. Like the apostle John, I wanted “no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 NASB). When I heard that most of my graduating seniors had strayed from the family, I reconciled myself to the fact that I hadn’t adequately prepared them for life after youth group. I thought, I must be the worst youth pastor ever. Then I started to study the issue more deeply and found that I wasn’t alone.
If you’re a youth pastor, Christian educator, or parent, I bet you’ve got a story of your own about a young ex-believer you love who was raised in the church. We’ve all got a student, son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, or nephew who has walked away from the truth. This isn’t just an anecdotal problem. It’s a national crisis. And it’s also personal. Everywhere we travel, we hear heartbreaking stories from caring adults who know young people who have abandoned their faith. It can be especially hard when these are our own kids.
We’ve collected the studies about this phenomenon for more than fifteen years. Here are five things we’ve learned from the data: 2

The Group Is Large

The youngest generation in America is quickly becoming the largest generation in America. Born between 2000 and 2015, school-aged Christians are part of what has been termed “Generation Z” (aka, “Gen Z”). Other popular titles include “Post Millennials,” “The App Generation,” “The Selfie Generation,” “Homelanders,” and “iGen.” You may have some of these young people in your own family. If not, they’re certainly in your church and community. More importantly, Gen Z is projected to very quickly become the largest demographic group in the world (comprising 32 percent of the global population) 3 and is already the single largest media audience in the nation. 4 There’s a reason why the church needs to address the youngest members of our family. They outnumber us, and they are our future.

The Problem Is Real

Gen Z has become the embodiment of an important (and disturbing) trend. Recent surveys and studies reveal that Gen Z is the least religious of all generations in America. In fact, “the percentage of teens who identify as atheist is double that of the general population.” 5 This data is consistent with recent historical data. The number of young people leaving the church over the past twenty years is staggering. According to one study at UCLA, 52 percent of college students reported frequent church attendance the year before they entered college, but only 29 percent continued frequent church attendance by their junior year. 6 A variety of studies report that 50 to 70 percent of young Christians walk away from the church by the time they are in their college years. 7 Even those who don’t leave find themselves struggling to believe Christianity is true. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of students in youth groups struggle in their faith after graduation. 8

The Reasons Are Revealing

Researchers have been asking young ex-Christians why they leave the church, and their answers are enlightening. Here are the most popular student responses from four different studies:
“Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.”
“Too many questions that can’t be answered.” 9
“I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.”
“I learned about evolution when I went away to college.”
“There is a lack of any sort of scientific or specific evidence of a creator.”
“I just realized somewhere along the line that I didn’t really believe it.”
“I’m doing a lot more l...

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