Monday, January 09, 2006

Faith and the Next Generation

Our family was recently challenged by this post from Doug Phillip's Blog. To read the entire article, please click on the link. Some very sobering thoughts about the day in which we live:

Wake Up! We ARE Losing the Next Generation
Observations and data from many different sources is proclaiming the fact that we are losing the next generation. Researcher George Barna believes that if current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, that in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today (Revolution by George Barna).

Dawson MacAlister, national youth ministry specialist, says that 90% of kids in active high school youth groups do not go to church by the time they are sophomores in college (The Present Future by Reggie McNeal, Jossey-Bass). Data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicate that currently we are losing 70-88% of our youth after their freshman year in college (T.C. Pinkney, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee, September 18, 2001).

Pinkney reported that 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation. See also the 2002 Southern Baptist Council on Family. Pinkney reported the 70% figure, while the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life reported that 88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18.

Thom Rainer, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary launched a survey that he hoped would tell him if people understood the gospel. He surveyed asking the following question: “Do you know for certain that if you die today, what would you say to God if He asked you why He should let you into His heaven?” The following percentages of people answered in a way that would indicate they were born again:

Those Who Understand the Gospel by Age Group
Born before 1946 --- 65%
Born between 1946 and 1964 --- 35%
Born between 1965 and 1976 --- 15%
Born between 1976 and 1994 --- 4%
(Source: The Present Future by Reggie McNeal.)

A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church, either never making a confession of faith or giving up on it.

Consider the Enormous Leverage of Fathers for Evangelism
The Baptist Press reported that if a child is the first person in the household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone in the household will follow. If the mother is first, there is a 17 percent chance everyone else in the household will follow. If the father is first, there is a 93% probability that everyone else in the house will follow.

Pray for an Uprising of Men.
I believe that a recovery of biblical fatherhood is the greatest and most neglected evangelistic opportunity in the church today. It is not the only legitimate evangelistic opportunity, but it is the most neglected. Imagine an uprising of men who preach the gospel daily to their children.

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