A Heart of Wisdom
By Wendy Wippel
Luke predicted a time when Christians would be fair game for ridicule, persecution, and even death. Today, anybody with eyes and ears and a news feed recognizes an increasing distaste for those who bear His name. You have to wonder, will faith endure till His return? New data says there’s more room for hope then I expected.
Another Barna poll is out. If you are not familiar with Barna, they are a research group specifically dedicated to gathering demographic data related to American religion. This one is specific to millennials.
These millennials (roughly defined as those born between 1982 and 2004) (lost and found), will for better or worse define the cultural milieu in which the church will exist in the next several decades. What kind of milieu does the Barna Poll predict? Well, my take is, to steal a phrase from Charles Dickens, “the best of times, the worst of times”. But there is hope. Because there is great opportunity.
The report, entitled, “Millennials and the Bible: three surprising insights” polled 1000 millennials, but limited the sample group to millennials between the ages of 18-30.
First surprising insight: The future of the church is in better hands than we thought.
Despite consistent reports in the media that millennials and (and others) are leaving the church in droves. Millennials that identified themselves as practicing Christians are pretty serious about their faith. They attend church regularly and report that their faith is very important to them.
And integral to their lives.
Moreover, these practicing Christian Millennials are serious about their Bibles. Of these millennials, 96% agreed that everything you need to lead a meaningful life could be found in the Scriptures, and the same proportion agreed that their Bible was the inspired word of God. And 71% identified the scriptures as the go-to resource for truth.
Interestingly, 55% viewed being in their Bibles as more important than being in church.
(And, well, I would have to say on that I concur. I only miss church when I am out of town, but I can only think of one verse that specifically tells us to be serious about church attendance (Hebrews 10:24,25)
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
But I can think of a slew that tells us that God’s Word is our life. And you could too.
So this Barna finding made my day.
Second Surprising Finding: The Millennial church is likely to face much more persecution than we have.
Millennials that did not identify themselves as Christian, for the most part, seem to harbor a fundamental hostility towards both the Bible and its proponents. These millennials most often described the Bible as “a book of teachings written by men that contained stories and advice” (30%). Somewhat gentler, others called the Bible a useful collection of moral teachings (20%). Others, however, described the Good Book as “an outdated book with no relevance for today”, mythology, and “fairy tale”.
It gets worse:
More than 24% agreed that the Bible was best described as “A dangerous book of religious dogma that has been used for centuries to oppress people.”
Here’s the kicker: 62% of the non-Christians millennials surveyed said that they had never actually read the Bible!!
Apparently they spend their all their time worrying about liberal celebrities who might leave the US (please, please, please God let it be Chelsea Handler) and listening to Whoopi, Joy Behind (oh sorry, I meant Behr) and Bill Mar for their news.
Simply put, they have been brainwashed. And it runs deep.
Barna pollsters also asked these non-Christian millennials how they felt about Christians. Specificallly, they asked what they assumed about a person if they happened to see them reading a Bible.
It would be good at this point to remember that these are all individuals younger than 30).
The Millennials were in complete agreement. When they saw someone reading a Bible they did assume things. And the things they assumed were uniformly negative.
They assumed that the person was a political conservative (22%). They assumed that they were old-fashioned (21%). They assumed that the visible Bible was some kind of provocation or public statement. Less than 1% even considered the fact that there may be some encouragement or other positive effect of Scripture in the life of said Bible’s owner. Less than 1%.
(Not that we should take this as a mandate to put our cloth-covered Bibles under wraps.)
Time for another dose of encouragement, right? Here it is. (But it comes with some marching orders.)
The one bright spot in the feedback from the lost (meaning non-Christian) millennials was this, 11% reported starting to read the Bible or increasing their reading of the Bible in the last year. Praise God!!
And the reason they gave for that interest is our marching orders. It was because these lost millennials saw the faith that the Bible bred make an obvious difference in the life of somebody they knew.
It’s 2017 and our world is changing rapidly. In ways that seem to surely mean that we will soon hear the trumpets call us home. And I am waiting expectantly, rejoicing in the nearness of His coming.
But time is growing short for all who don’t know Him as Savior. And the days ARE evil. At least mine are. Spent overwhelmingly in tasks that won’t matter at all in eternity no matter how hard I try to change the pattern. It’s twenty-first century life.
So we I beg of you, of you, Lord, while you tarry, “Teach us to number our days, so that we may present to you a heart of wisdom”. (Psalm 90:12)
From our mouths to His ears. Time’s a’ wastin’!