1 Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
As a business guy, I look at statistics a lot. I look at revenue streams versus prior quarter and prior year. I look at operating profit. I look at non-operating profit. I study my labor costs. When I used to work in restaurants and grocery I would study numbers like the “ideal cost of sales” and unknown shrink (which finding that number was many times like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack).
As a ministry person (I hesitate to use the word professional because there is only one professional minister and the rest of us are simply called and equipped by Him), there are many numbers that are tracked daily and weekly. We look at attendance on Sundays and during our small groups. We look at tithing. We study how many people are actually going deeper into the Word and those who prefer to remain ignorant about God’s Word (a little harsh, yes, but true). And all churches that have actual buildings need to look at some of the same business costs that I used to analyze like non-operating costs, operating costs, and line item budgets.
Then there are other people out there that study numbers that scare the crap out of me. One of these people is George Barna, founder of the Barna Group. The Barna Group is a market research company that specializes in studying the religious beliefs of America and how that intersects with the behavior of Americans and culture and society as a whole.
Well, his latest study came out a few weeks ago and the numbers scare me. He based his study on asking 4 simple topics of questions:
- Was Jesus real or fictional?
- Was Jesus God?
- Was Jesus sinless?
- Have you made a personal commitment to Christ?
- Is Jesus the only way to heaven?
Now, while the numbers still tilt in favor of Christianity, the newer generations of Americans have significantly less faith than those who are older. Before I explain the findings, I want to define a few terms here:
Millennial: A person who became an adult around the year 2000
Gen – X: A person born between 1964-1980
Boomers: A person born between 1946-1964
Elders: Anyone older than a boomer
Psalm 24:6 – Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
Was Jesus Real or Created?
Matthew 16:15 – He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
While there has been a lot of discussion lately about the reality of the human Jesus and people try to deny he ever existed, the numbers still show that over 92% of Americans believe Jesus was a real person. And the numbers are somewhat consistent across generations. 96% of elders and 87% of millennials believe and the other two groups fall in between. But here is where we see our first shift. There is a 9% differential between elders and millennials. This will become more drastic as we look at the other topics.
I believe Jesus was…
God, a spiritual leader, or not sure were the three choices.
John 10:30 – I and the Father are one.
Overall, 56% of Americans believe He is God. 26% say a spiritual leader and 18% are unsure. Again, the elders lead the way with 62% saying Jesus is God while only 48% of millennials say He is. An interesting statistic with this is that less millennials are unsure of who Jesus is than elders, but a vast number (35%) of millennials believe Jesus was simply a great spiritual leader. This is our young adult population!
Churches, let me ask you a question. Do you have a young adult ministry that is BIBLICALLY focused? If not, if your young adult ministry is simply “help based” or based around gatherings, then the premise of ministry is wrong. Sure, there need to be facets of that in all ministry, but a ministry needs to be defined by the Word of God and nothing else.
The proof is in the numbers. An alarming number of millennials have the wrong view of Jesus!
Was Jesus Sinless?
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Over 52% of Americans believe that Jesus committed sins while on earth. Only 46% believe He was sinless. And this is pretty consistent among all generations. The highest, again, is millennials at 56% believe He committed sins.
Again, churches, I ask you, what are YOU teaching? Granted these studies go to the churched and unchurched alike, but regardless, over half of America gets one of the major premises of Christianity wrong!
Is Christ Still Important in Your Life and have You Made a Commitment to Him?
John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
On average 62% of Americans believe that they have made a personal commitment to Christ and that He is integral in their lives today. But the breakdown is alarming! 71% of elders claim that while only 46% of millennials do!!!
It also shows a significant drop among high income levels. For those families making less than $50,000/year, 65% have made a commitment to Christ. But for families making over $100,000/year, that number drops to 53%.
And among ethnicity, over 80% of black Americans believe Christ is important while only 60% of white Americans do.
Is Jesus or Good Deeds the way to Heaven?
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Only 56% of millennials believe Jesus is the only way to heaven while 68% of elders. Sadly, a whopping 12% of millennials say that being a good person will get them into heaven and another 6% believe that God is not so mean as to condemn anyone to hell.
WAKE THE HEAVEN UP!
As the generations get farther and farther from the first century Christians, we are finding a slippery slope of heresy among Americans.
This is NOT Hollywood’s fault. This is not the fault of the drug kingpins, the alcohol and tobacco companies, or pornography. It is not the fault of the government.
It is the fault of the church.
That’s right. I said it.
It is the fault of the church.
If the church would embrace SOUND doctrine and stand by it rather than changing because the culture is changing then the world would see a church that is willing to stand for that which is important, the Bible.
If the church would LOVE so radically and stop spewing hatred from our mouths, then perhaps the world would see what it is we support, not only that which we hate.
If the church would be focused on seeing how many people can be unified under the same study of the Bible and teach it similarly, then we would have a people who understand it deeply.
If the church would stop focusing on the inward attractions and spend all the money (after bills of course as we are called to manage our money well) on outreach and living life WITH the sinners instead of despite them, then perhaps we would find a church that would be filled with hookers, drug addicts, sex offenders, and government officials (oops, did that one slip in there?) as we watch their lives radically change with the Gospel of Christ.
If the church would simply be the church God called us to be. Not a building run by professionals, but a gathering of Christians who know their main job in this life is to minister. Then we would see a revival. Then we would be witness to the NEXT Great Awakening.
Let’s rise, church. Let’s wake the heaven up!
Romans 13:11 – Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.