Recently, I attended a conference for pastors and Christian leaders where there were a host of speakers who were there to encourage and challenge the audience.
One of the last speakers to present was Ron Luce, the founder and president of Teen Mania Ministries, one of the world’s largest organizations dedicated to teenagers. Teen Mania has impacted nearly 2.5 million teenagers through its live “Acquire the Fire” events since the ministry began in 1986. When Luce finished speaking, I didn’t feel very encouraged by his remarks; but I was extremely challenged by them.
This is our moment.
Do you ever reflect on why you were created to live in this time? I do. In fact, I have often found myself saying that I was born 150 years too late; that I would have been a good fit for the days of the pioneer. But that’s a wrong perspective.
The Lord wonderfully placed each of us living in this generation with a specific purpose in mind. He created us for this moment; we must not waste it.
Everyone reading this was created for this exact moment. When we look at the culture around us, it is so easy to say “I just do not fit here.” That’s the point. God does not want us to fit here. His word in Romans 12:2 says that we are not to be conformed to this world, but, rather, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
According to Luce, there are more teenagers living in the United States now than at any other time in history. In fact, 34 percent of the U.S. population is comprised of Millennials or Generation Y, young people born between 1980 and 2000. And here’s our challenge: According to a 2006 George Barna study, only 4 percent of this generation are Bible believing Christians. Only 4 percent!
Almost every denomination is showing a lack of teen attendance and involvement. Now if you ask the typical teenager if he or she is a Christian, three out of four will say “yes.” The National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) states that “most American teenagers have a positive view of religion but otherwise don’t give it much thought.” This in-depth study, conducted between 2002 and 2005, defines a new religious outlook called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This doctrine is distinct from traditional teachings of most world religions.
The guiding principles of this view as defined by the NSYR include:
• A god exists who created and orders the world and watches over life on earth.
• God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
• The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
• God is not involved in my life except when I need a problem resolved.
• Good people go to Heaven when they die.
It is easy to see why so many young Americans have this as their belief system. They are inundated with depictions of life through the media. Look at a typical teen around you; they are plugged in to the Internet, television, music, and more, often at the same time.
We live in a sexualized culture; on average, every hour on television depicts 6.7 scenes that depict a sexual topic. The most watched teen network is MTV, where more than 3,000 soft porn images are broadcast every week (Parents Television Council). The largest consumer of Internet pornography is currently young people ages 12-17 (Family Safe Media). Young people have become what Luce calls Culture Zombies. He says that 98 percent are followers while only 2 percent will actually help shape culture.
We know that more than two-thirds of all adults who have given their lives to Christ made their decision before the age of 18 (Barna, Oct. 2004). Another startling statistic from a Southern Baptist Council study in 2002 shows that 88 percent of teens are leaving the church after graduating from high school.
This is why RENEWANATION exists. We must not fail this generation.
The statistics are more than numbers; each represents the life of a child — a child wonderfully created by God. Every one of the children of this generation should have the opportunity to know their Creator, to receive an education that helps promote the hope and purpose for which they were created, an education framed in the truth of a Christian worldview.
This is our moment, this is our cause. What will we do with it?