Dr. Alex McFarland, Author of New Book, ‘Abandoned Faith,’
Analyzes Why Millennials Are Walking Away from Their Faith
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Millennials now out-number Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, and they have surpassed Generation Xers as the most significant portion of the workforce. So it makes sense that a leading research organization would study the views of this influential generation.
Just last week, the American Culture & Faith Institute (ACFI) published a new survey about how the core beliefs and behaviors of millennials compare to other adults.
Likewise, religion and culture expert, national radio host and author Dr. Alex McFarland (www.AlexMcFarland.com), explores why millennials are leaving the church and how those who love them can bring them back in his new book, “Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home.”
“We know that millennials are a diverse group and different than any other generation before them,” McFarland said. “They are unique in that they seek independence in their beliefs, are much more skeptical, tend not to take things at face value, are technologically astute and culturally engaged. This is a generation of 80 million individuals that, thus far, has been hard for older adults, employers and the media to figure out. We also know that, to a large group of them, faith is less important than it was for their parents and grandparents, with many shunning the church and the faith concepts they were taught during their upbringing.”
McFarland says the waning faith aspect alone should be very concerning to every parent, grandparent, pastor and potential employer. Therefore, in “Abandoned Faith,” co-authored with apologist and evangelist Jason Jimenez, McFarland interviews top Christian leaders who work with millennials and families. The book’s research and conversations shed new light on what Christian parents must do to reach their young adult children. “Abandoned Faith” also offers a strong voice of hope for parents, church leaders and others who serve and love the millennial generation.
In the new study, ACFI noted, millennials represent one of the most spiritually challenging generations in the past century, raising a new set of “challenges to Christianity and to a nation whose morals and values have long reflected biblical principles.”
The millennial study was a component of the Institute’s recent Worldview Measurement Project, and revealed that Millennials are, by far, the generation least likely to possess a biblical worldview. Sixteen percent of Boomer and Builder generations possess such an outlook, along with 7 percent of Baby Busters and just 4 percent of millennials. The study also discovered these facts about millennials:
- 59 percent of millennials consider themselves Christians, compared to 72 percent of adults from older generations.
- Just 18 percent of adults aged 30 or older claim to be in the atheist-agnostic-none faith category, but nearly three in 10 (28 percent) millennials embrace this classification. (The Pew Research Center also found that millennials are most likely to be religiously unaffiliated.)
- One-third of older adults are born again Christians, stating that they will experience eternity in heaven with God after their death because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Far fewer millennials (20 percent) share that expectation.
- A minority of adults 30 or older (43 percent) supports same-sex marriage, while nearly two-thirds of those under 30 (65 percent) support it.
- Conservatives outnumber liberals by a 2:1 margin among adults 30 or older (28 percent vs. 12 percent), yet, the opposite is true among millennials—12 percent are conservative while 26 percent are liberal.
- Millennials are the generation most likely to prefer socialism over capitalism (44 percent compared to 35 percent among older adults).
- While just 6 percent of adults 30 or older claim to be in the LGBT community, two-and-a-half times as many millennials (15 percent) adopt that label.
The Institute also asked 20 questions in the belief section of the Worldview Measurement Project, and millennials were statistically different from other adults on 12 of those indicators. Overall, the survey found that millennials are less likely than older adults to have a biblical view on 19 of the 20 beliefs evaluated, the largest gaps being related to the nature of God, the existence of absolute moral truth, concepts concerning evil and the personal importance of faith.
Social science researcher George Barna, who leads ACFI, said a worldview is established early in life.
“Remember, a person’s worldview is typically developed between the ages of about 18 months and 13 years,” he explained. “There is usually very little movement in a worldview after that point. You could say with confidence that the worldview a person possesses at age 13 is probably the worldview they will die with. Unless pre-existing patterns radically change, we are not likely to ever see the millennial generation reach even 10 percent who have a biblical worldview.”
Barna added that a major implication is that millennial parents are much less likely to pass on biblical views to their children.
“Parents are one of the most important influences on the worldview of their children, and millennials are entering their prime childbearing years. But because 24 of every 25 millennials lack a biblical worldview today, the probability of them transmitting such to their children is extremely low. You cannot give what you don’t have. In other words, if today’s children are going to eventually embrace a biblical worldview, people with such a perspective must exert substantial influence on the nation’s children to supply what their parents are unable to give them.”
Read more about the survey here.
To book Dr. Alex McFarland for interviews, contact Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102.