When people say “I am a Christian”, what do they really mean?  I was looking at a 2021 survey of Millennials (which includes Gen Z adults), and found some very interesting statistics on Millennials, who say they are Christian, view God.  The percentages were surprising.   It confirms I live in a Christian bubble and I have not realized how much the world has changed, even though I have been interested in declining church attendance among the younger generations for over 20 years. 40% of Millennials do not know if God exists, or do not believe that God exists, or do not care whether God exists. 40% have effectively written off God.  57% of Millennials say they are Christian.  Of those 57%, only 46% agree that God is “all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect, just creator of the universe, who rules the universe today”.  I would have hoped that statement would have had 100% agreement for those who say they are “Christian”.

So if only 46% Millennial “Christians” give the Christian answer of who God is, what do the other Millennial “Christians” think God is?  6% “don’t know”.  1% say “there is no such thing as God”, and 22% agree with the statement that “a higher power may exist; nobody knows for certain”.  That is 29% of Millennial “Christians” that doubt the existence of God.  They are part of that 40%.  To continue, there are 4% who say “Everyone is god”; 15% who have a new age take saying “God refers to the total realization of personal, human potential or a state of higher consciousness that a person may reach”; and 7% who agree that “there are many gods, each with different purposes and authority”.  Those responses are from all who claim to be Christian.  The word “Christian” does not have the traditional biblical meaning for many people. (An interesting aside is that 31% of “Non-Christian” Millennials gave the correct Christian answer from the choices to who God is.)  I believe that for many Americans saying that one is a “Christian” is the same as saying “I am a good person”. 

And I believe this is also true for other generations.  It is just more pronounced for the younger generations as America has become more and more a post-Christian nation.  This is made clear in the percentage of people with a biblical worldview.  Only 4% of Millennials have a biblical worldview.  It is 6% for Gen X, 8% for Boomers, and 9% for Builders.  There are not all that many with a biblical worldview, but the decline is also clearly seen.  So what is the worldview that these generations have?  The dominant worldview for each generation is the same (from 83% to 89%). It is Syncretism.  Syncretism is the amalgamation (or patchwork) of different religions or worldviews.  In this case, it is the worldview where you pick and choose what you want to believe in.  For the Millennials and Gen X’ers, they tend to pick their concepts from the Moralistic Therapeutic Deism worldview.  For the Boomers and the Builders, they tend to pick from the Biblical Theism worldview. The Create-Your-Own worldview has always been popular.  The difference is as the Christian influence wanes through the generations, the younger ones are less likely to pick and choose from Biblical Theism.  Still the dominant worldview for each generation is not a biblical worldview. 

The end result for Millennials is that most of them are searching for purpose in their life, and a majority of them often have bouts of depression and anxiety.  They want to belong, so many of them have connected with what I call the latest social contagion, that is they identify with or as LGBTQ. The table below lays out the percentages.  They are hurting.  They want a good life, but today’s cultural influences and forces have left them lacking.  Their patchwork worldview does not handle reality the way it should.  It is sad that 40% of them have effectively written off the existence of God and the Christian Faith, because I have a full and abundant life because of Jesus. I think a lot of their problems would be solved if they would turn and embrace God.

Thinking about your commitments, would you describe yourself as …Percentage of those who answer “Yes”
Searching for purpose in your life75%
Believing all religious faiths are of equal value74%
An American patriot55%
Often feel anxious, depressed or unsafe54%
Deeply committed to practicing your faith52%
Prefer socialism to capitalism48%
LGBTQ30% but39% for Gen Z only

Note a Gallup poll that was taken at roughly the same time put LGBTQ Millennials at 9% and LGBTQ Gen Z’ers at 16%.  I believe the difference may be in the way this survey worded the question.  This survey question may show more of the support for LGBTQ cause as opposed to their own sexual preference. It may be some of them are identifying with LGBTQ cause but not identifying as a LGBTQ person.  Whatever the case is, both surveys show a large uptick in LGBTQ identification among the younger generations. I believe it is about identity.  They want to know who they are and gender identity is the big issue in today’s culture, so they identify with LGBTQ.  If they don’t effectively write off God (like 40% have done), they can find their identity as forgiven and loved children of God.  That identity has been a solid rock for me.

My takeaway from this post is that we live in a very different world from 50 years ago.  We, older Christians, need to recognize the change and not assume nothing has changed.  The world has changed significantly and Christians need to realize that the world they live in today is in many ways more like the world first century Christians lived in than the world from 50 years ago.  We need to get out of our Christian bubble and reach out to those hurting because of a false worldview.  And we need to support the real Christian Millennials.  It is rough out there for them in this very post-Christian world.

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