In today’s Orange County Register:
As sanctuaries fill up for the holidays, forward-thinking church leaders are finding little to celebrate in a growing body of research that shows American Christianity at risk of losing an entire generation of young people, perhaps for good.
A record one-third of Americans under age 30 are now religiously unaffiliated, according to a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That’s up from one-quarter just four years ago. There are now more religiously unaffiliated Americans than white evangelical Protestants.
Sixteen percent of non-Christians under 30 say they have a “good impression” of Christianity, and a mere 3 percent feel that way about evangelical Christianity, according to the Barna Group, a Christian market research organization. As recently as the 1990s, a majority of non-Christians viewed Christianity favorably.
More potentially troubling to church leaders is that half of young Christians have negative views of their own faith, according to Barna.
“It’s the melting of the icebergs, but many people aren’t paying attention to it,” said David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group.