Each generation has predominant characteristics. Here are characteristics of the Millennial generation:
• Most important thing is relationships. Strong family, strong friends. Group oriented. Always connected.
• Upbeat, positive, happy. But realists. Confident.
• Tolerant and respectful. Diversity is good. Weary of other generations’ conflicts within families, politics and religion. Not quick to place blame. Quick to bring people together. Peace-makers.
• Smart, teachable, want to learn from elders. Critical thinkers, always questioning, always learning. Hi-tech. Best educated and capable generation in human history.
• Need constant feedback on how they are doing. Need frequent strokes of encouragement to be energized.
• Not as self-absorbed and materialistic as parent generation. Want to make money, but not primarily for accumulating things and status, but for lifestyle that allows ample time for relationships, recreation, travel, education and community service. Greater savings, more conservative spending. Good balance between work and pleasure. Desire to serve society. Look beyond self to others.
• Concerned about social justice, environment and health. Want to do great things, want to change the world. Hopeful about the future. Success not defined by wealth, power or fame, but by making great contributions to the common good.
• Impatient. Want to do things now. Resist being held back by seniority and negative thinking.
• Spiritually agnostic. Religion unimportant and irrelevant. Don’t think much about it. Most raised in families with little or no church involvement. Don’t see how Bible is connected to the real world.
• Hodgepodge of beliefs, very diverse, difficult to label. Don’t think any one person or book is the ultimate authority. Post-modern (every person has his or her own truth; there are few absolutes). Live with high degree of uncertainty, ambiguity and change; that’s ok, that’s life.
• Jesus as a good moral teacher, good principles. One of the ways to God. Much confusion regarding who Jesus really is.
• Only 50% of millennials believe Jesus was sinless. Only 24% believe Bible is the written Word of God and totally accurate in all it teaches. But most believe in a literal heaven and hell, resulting from good and bad things done in this lifetime.
• 65% say they are ‘Christian’ (broadest sense of the term). 20% say they are ‘born-again,’ including 6% who say they are ‘evangelical.’
• Don’t like inwardly focused institutional church. See church as myopic, unthinking, defensive and hypocritical. Most unchurched generation in America.
• Among adults who were regular church attenders as teenagers, 61% became spiritually disengaged (don’t attend church, pray or read Bible) by mid-20’s. Most leave and don’t come back.
• Only 11% of those who left the church did so during college years. Almost 90% were lost in middle school and high school.
• Only about 15% of the 80 million millennials in the U.S. today subscribe to traditional Christian beliefs. Even though a small minority, a potent force for the church because they are passionate about their faith. Want to move closer to New Testament Christianity. Will not wait on tired, established churches to get the work done.
• Community should not be a place to look for prospects to help the church, but a place where Christians are called to serve and minister. Not satisfied with missions that just pay others to do the work.
Today's teens are smart and full of questions, and they want straight answers.
Here are examples of the kind of questions asked and answered in this Bible study:
• Why should the Bible have more authority than other holy books like the Koran or Hindu Vedas?
• Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the Whale ... can any intelligent person really believe those stories?
• How old is the world?
• Is there a Protestant Bible and a Catholic Bible? Many different kinds of Bibles today? How can anyone know what to believe?
• Will there be people in heaven who never even heard about Jesus or the Bible?
• Isn't faith just a crutch for people who are not critical thinkers, for people who just believe whatever their minister, family or friends tell them?
• Isn't sin relative to each person's time, place and situation?
• If God is all-powerful and wants us to be good, why didn't he just create us good in the first place?
• Is there a sin worse than murder, so bad it can't be forgiven? What is it?
• Listening to Christians, doesn't it sound like they have three Gods instead of one God? Isn't 'trinity' theological jargon that's impossible to comprehend?
• If God is love, how can he make us like this and then send most to hell?
• Can bad people go to heaven? Can good people go to hell?
• Some people say God is fair ... but look around, can anyone really think he's fair?
• What is original sin? Predestination? Election?
• Isn't it arrogant for Christians to say that Jesus is the only way?
• How will God deal with the uninformed and misinformed? What about people who died but never heard?
• Do we lose our salvation when we sin?
• Of the hundreds of commandments in the Bible, which ones did Jesus say are the most important?
• What are sacraments? Are they just for Catholics, or do Protestants have them, too? How essential are they?
• What about all the hypocrites in the church? Doesn't that prove that much of what goes on in church is phony?
Here are excellent books to help understand why teens are leaving the church and why this Bible study is so important: