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The headlines are screaming that Generation Z, born from the mid- to late 1990s to somewhere around 2010, is the least religious generation in recorded history.
More than a third of these teenagers and early 20-somethings are “nones,” meaning they identify as atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular” on a survey.
Group - Percentage - Atheists - Population - Research
And within that umbrella group, the percentage who are atheists is twice that of the general population, according to research by the Barna Group (from 6% of all Americans to 13% of Gen Zers).
James Emery White, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, gives voice to his considerable anxiety about all this in Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World.
Spoiler - Book
Spoiler alert: I strongly disliked this book.
In the guise of helping pastors, parents, and teachers “understand” and “reach out” to Generation Z, this book showcases the very problems it tells readers to avoid. White chides church leaders for clinging to the models of previous generations (door-to-door evangelism, large events) even while demonstrating a remarkable tone deafness to the deeper concerns of this generation (racism, homophobia, violence in schools, and the list goes on).
White - Book - Research - Pew - Gallup
White begins the book by drawing on standard research from Pew, Gallup, and Barna to demonstrate the scope of the problem—young adults going AWOL from religion if they ever had religion in the first place. So far, so good as books go; White can be a clear and effective writer when he’s not lazily quoting his own previous books ad nauseam.
And then things get vague. The church needs to be “countercultural,” he asserts, but he has an easier time telling us what this isn’t than what it is. It’s not the Benedict Option, in which Christians withdraw from society and politics; it’s not fundamentalism, which is a thoroughgoing rejection of the modern world; it’s not the tactic of...
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