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Why Modern Preteens Reject Basic Biblical Beliefs

Why Modern Preteens Reject Basic Biblical Beliefs

According to George Barna’s research, a person’s worldview is essentially formed by the age of 13. This makes the preteen years a critical time for parents and churches to help children establish a solid biblical worldview.

Recognizing that fact, Barna, perhaps today’s top pollster regarding the religious inclinations of Americans, did some polling among this age group to see where things stand. In a nutshell, his polling shows that 8-12 year olds are on track to abandon biblical Christianity in record numbers. These results are not very encouraging, and point to a massive need for Christians to up their discipleship training game. In particular, he found that preteens are rejecting five central beliefs of the Christian faith:

  • Viewing the Bible as the true, reliable words of God and a guide for life - Only 26% believe that biblical teachings represent the best way to distinguish right from wrong (74% don’t believe it).
  • Recognizing the existence of absolute truth (based on Scripture) - Only 21% believe that absolute moral truth, based on Scripture, exists (71% believe there is no absolute moral truth).
  • Acknowledging Jesus Christ as the means to salvation - Only 36% believe salvation is achieved by confessing their sins and asking Christ into their lives (64% don’t acknowledge salvation in Christ).
  • Finding life purpose by serving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength - Only 27% believe serving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength is their chief purpose in life (73% seek their life purpose in some other place).
  • Defining success as consistently obeying God’s principles and commands - Only 17% consider obedience to God to be the most accurate definition of success (83% don’t define success as obedience to God).

This immediately begs the question: What is going on with these kids’ parents and children’s ministry leaders? These are, after all, the most important influencers in the lives of these young people. Are they not influencing their charges properly?

Well, what Barna discovered is that not only are our kids rejecting the five principles above, their influencers also do so at similar levels as the children. In other words, the kids are only following the examples and teachings of those who are raising them. Shockingly, Barna discovered that only 2% of today’s parents, and just 12% of children’s pastors, have a biblical worldview.

These are, obviously, horrifying statistics! At the same time, if we are honest with ourselves, it is not surprising. All we have to do is look at what is going on around us to recognize that the beliefs and values that dominate modern society are not biblical beliefs. The only conclusion we can come to is that people who hold non-biblical beliefs are doing a much more effective job of spreading their faith than Christians.

So, is this a hopeless situation that we must simply learn to live with, or is there something we can do about it? I believe there is something we can do, but it is going to require that we start looking at things in a different way from what we have done traditionally. 

The solution to this problem has two parts. And BOTH parts MUST be in play. If only one part (or none) is being implemented, we will continue to see what we are currently seeing. 

The first thing that is necessary is for Christians to be active in sharing Christ as they go about daily life. This can’t be conceived of as merely some church program or participation in special efforts. It is not that those things are bad or wrong, but if that’s a Christian’s entire understanding of evangelism, there will, honestly, not be a lot of evangelistic effort. Evangelism is part of a biblical lifestyle, not merely the implementation of a program.

The second necessary part of solving society’s problem is to effectively disciple Christians. There is a particular knowledge foundation and skill set that Christians need to master – not for the purpose of their salvation, but for their confident and effective ministry out in the world. If they don’t have this, they will not be confident as they interact with others out in the world, and will not be consistent in expressing their faith to our lost society. And frankly, this one is the most neglected among Christian churches.

Both of these are equally critical. Without evangelism, few others will come to Christ, and without effective discipleship training, few Christians will even attempt to impact our world. We can’t focus on one without the other. Churches that don’t do either will simply wither away. Churches that focus only on evangelism may become spiritually a mile wide, but only an inch deep. Churches that focus only on discipleship will become fat and lazy. Evangelism and Christian discipleship training are two sides of the same coin, and must be emphasized in any church that is truly interested in doing the work of God’s kingdom out in the world.

Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books entitled The Truth MirageRules for Christians RadicalsLiberalism vs. Conservatism, and his latest book Shattering the Truth Mirage and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.

You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.

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