The Seven Deadly Horsemen in Our Lives


Based upon the last essay in volume 1 of The Law of Success…review and compare to the biblical text. Beware, an internal war is brewing within your own mind and heart if you are not careful!

The “seven horsemen” are labeled, in order shown, Intolerance, Greed, Revenge, Egotism, Suspicion, Jealously and “?” The worst enemy that any man has is the one that walks around under his own hat. If you could see yourself as others see you the enemies that you harbor in your own personality might be discovered and thrown out. The Seven Enemies named in this essay are the commonest which ride millions of men and women to failure without being discovered. Weigh yourself carefully and find out how many of the Seven you are harboring.

YOU see, in this picture, seven deadly warriors! From birth until death every human being must give battle to these enemies. Your success will be measured very largely by the way you manage your battle against these swift riders. As you look at this picture you will say, of course, that it is only imagination. True, the picture is imaginary, but the swift riders of destruction are REAL.

If these enemies rode openly, on real horses, they would not be dangerous, because they could be rounded up and put out of commission. But, they ride unseen, in the minds of men. So silently and subtly do they work that most people never recognize their presence.

INTOLERANCE, has killed more people, destroyed
more friendships, brought more misery and suffering
into the world and caused more wars than all of the
other six horsemen that you see in this picture.
Until you master INTOLERANCE you will never
become an accurate thinker. This enemy of mankind
closes up the mind and pushes reason and logic and
FACTS into the back-ground. If you find yourself
hating those whose religious viewpoint is different
from your own you may be sure that the most
dangerous of the seven deadly horsemen still rides in
your brain.
· · · · · · · ·
GREED warps and twists man’s brain so that he wants to build a
fence around the earth and keep everyone else on the
outside of it. This is the enemy that drives man to
accumulate millions upon top of millions of dollars
which he does not need and can never use. This is the
enemy that causes man to twist the screw until he has
wrung the last drop of blood from his fellow man.
· · · · · · · ·                                                                                                                                             And, thanks to REVENGE which rides alongside
of GREED, the unfortunate person who gives brain-room
to these cruel twins is not satisfied to merely
take away his fellow man’s earthly belongings; he
wants to destroy his reputation in the bargain.                                                                            If you would know how deadly are ENVY and
GREED, study the history of every man who has set
out to become RULER OF THIS WORLD!
· · · · · · · ·                                                                                                                                    EGOTISM thrives where SUSPICION exists.
Interest yourself in others and you will be too busy to
indulge in self-love. Observe those around you who
begin every sentence with the personal pronoun, “I,”
and you will notice that they are suspicious of other
The man who can forget himself while engaging
in useful service to other people is never cursed with
SUSPICION. Study those about you who are both
SUSPICIOUS and EGOTISTICAL and see how many
of this type you can name who are successful in
whatever work they may be engaged in.
And, while making this study of OTHERS, study,
also, yourself! Be sure that you are not bound down by
EGOTISM  and SUSPICION.                                                                                                                    · · · · · · · ·                                                                                                                                               You will notice that JEALOUSY rides just back
of SUSPICION. Some who read this will say that
JEALOUSY and SUSPICION should have ridden side
by side, as one often leads to the other in man’s mind.
JEALOUSY is the most common form of insanity.
It rides in the minds of both men and women;
sometimes with a real cause, but more often without
any cause whatsoever.
This deadly rider is a great friend of the divorce lawyers!

Do not fool yourself! You may be in that larger, class. The purpose of this article is to get you to see yourself as YOU ARE! If you are suffering failure and poverty and misery in any of their forms you are sure to discover one or more of these deadly riders in your
brain. Make no mistake about it – those who have all they want, including happiness and good health, have driven the seven horsemen out of their brains.                                             · · · · · · · ·                                                                                                                                                 “?” (Envy, Dishonesty, Procrastination, Uncontrollability)                                                      The last name omitted because it is specific and relative                                                           to the individual person making the assessment of him                                                               or herself.    Some will name this rider DISHONESTY.                                                                  Others will name it PROCRASTINATION. A few will have
the courage to name it UNCONTROLLED SEX DESIRE.                                                               As for you, name it whatever you please, but be sure to                                                            give it a name.

You can read the full book of THE LAW OF SUCCESS, the above excerpts were from the same title of this blog post which lies after lesson seven.

And while this is not specifically a biblical blog post, the 7 deadly sins discussed herein are grave problems for mankind, in general. You can learn quite a bit about yourself by widening your scope of reading. Motivational speakers, especially those of the days long gone by, can open your eyes on a great many issues.

I truly believe that God desires each of us to do great and mighty things in His Name. Sometimes we need to get ourselves motivated. Sometimes we need to have greater confidence. And other times we need a better understanding of our purpose. Remembering the fact that Moses did not wish to go forth to speak to Pharaoh because he was not a good enough speaker, nor did he have the confidence (despite the fact that God was on his side.) We each have our specific problems with going forth and doing precisely what God has mandated us to do…but we do need to acknowledge the fear, our fears, and find a way to move forward. Hopefully, this piecemealed excerpt will assist in some small way.

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy




Alabama Supreme Court Rules Unborn Baby is a Person

Veronica Neffinger | Editor, | Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Original Article

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that a wrongful death lawsuit brought by a woman who claims her doctor caused her to have a miscarriage by administering an abortion-inducing drug can proceed.

Kimberly Stinnett’s usual doctor was reportedly out the day of her appointment. Karla Kennedy, the doctor who was filling in that day, believed that Stinnett had an ectopic pregnancy since she had had one previously. Thus, Kennedy decided to administer methotrexate, a drug that, as the court noted, is “intended to cause the end of the pregnancy.”

However, when Stinnett’s usual doctor, William Huggins, examined her pregnancy via ultrasound, he found that Stinnett did not have an ectopic pregnancy after all, but instead had a normal intrauterine pregnancy. He said that Stinnett’s pregnancy was now doomed to fail, however, quite possibly from the methotrexate.

A few weeks later, as predicted, Stinnett suffered a miscarriage. She then took her case against Kennedy to court, alleging that the doctor had unnecessarily ended a viable pregnancy.

The initial court dismissed the case, but when Stinnett appealed her case to the Alabama Supreme Court, it was ruled that her case stands and must be heard in the lower court.

The court’s decision to allow Stinnett’s case to proceed has significant implications for the pro-life movement since they based their decision on the belief that Kennedy had possibly contributed to a homicide–meaning that Stinnett’s unborn baby was a person and not simply a fetus.

“The use of the viability standard established in Roe [Roe v. Wade] is incoherent as it relates to wrongful-death law because, among other reasons, life begins at the moment of conception. The fact that life begins at conception is beyond refutation,” wrote Judge Thomas Parker.

“Members of the judicial branch of Alabama should do all within their power to dutifully ensure that the laws of Alabama are applied equally to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, both born and unborn,” Parker added.

Click here to read our list of 13 states who have ruled that unborn babies are children.

Photo courtesy:

Publication date: January 3, 2017

Judge Not?


One of the most used scriptures in the Bible and yet one of the most misunderstood scriptures of the Bible.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? ~Matthew 7:1-3 NKJV

Was this mandate to us by Jesus to not judge? No, this was mandated by Jesus for us to not judge outside of rightness. (Yes, that was spelled correctly!) Jesus, time and again, judged many times through the parables he used to teach others with, the Pharisees bringing the adulterous woman for judgement, the clearing out of the money-changers from the temple courtyard, etc.

All throughout the Bible there are references that infer, or blatantly speak of, making proper judgements. Are we perfect when we judge our children as we teach them to be honorable adults? Not a chance! Because none of us is good…no, not one! We are never perfect in this life, but from time to time we must make judgement.

While listening to Should Christians Judge Others? (Cold Case Christianity Broadcast #81) I find much clarification to my ability to better understand this scripture. The fact that many of us, have a tendency to, take the scripture alone and not in the context with the Biblical text as a whole. This is why when we refer to a scripture we MUST always take it within the confines of the textual context of the Bible. Why, You may ask? IF the Bible is true and is the Word of God, THEN the Bible cannot be contradictory. That said, we must ensure that whatever we excerpt from the Bible must be in agreement with the remainder of the Bible. We tend to take the Biblical text out of it’s proper context.

Remember the adulterous woman who was brought before Jesus for His judgement? There were problems with this case, so-to-say, because the Pharisees did not bring the man with whom she committed adultery. Consider what the Old Testament say on the subject:

The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. ~Leviticus 20:10 NKJV


Kind of funny, but it works for me! We are forever stuck on the ability to see what others are doing so wrong in their lives, yet we cannot see the the same problems (although they are much worse) in our own lives. We humans have this, apparently, as a super power. The hypocrisy in our lives is grand. As we grow older…I would like to think we become a little more wise. Like speaking without thinking, first. Leaping without looking, first. I think you get my drift.

The Apostle Paul placed it into perspective when he spoke:

Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.  ~Romans 2:17-24 NKJV

wwjdOur judgement should not be hypocritical, but rather wise and honest. IF we are to truly emulate Christ in our lives, in a representative way, THEN we must act out of love, truth, honesty, integrity, and how He would also act in that same situation. You remember the old WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) If we can keep this in our field of view and use it as a reminder, then it can help keep us on the right path. Just the same as if we would keep Biblical scripture on our minds while we live out our daily lives! It is a help, not perfect because we are fallible creatures, as mentioned above.

We are all destined to do great things for God, while we live out our lives. However, we must spend time in God’s word, the Bible. We must dedicate ourselves to God, yielding ourselves to Jesus. Hearing the word, accepting the word, repenting of our sins, being baptized, and evangelizing to all others. This is our purpose, our goal to enter into heaven. And to aid others to enter into heaven, or at least laying out the option before them. We need to go before others in love and honesty…despite our faults.

Everything that we need to do is laid out in the Bible…literally written out for us.

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy




The faith I speak of in this blog post is our Faith in the Word which we believe and stake our souls eternal joy or eternal damnation on. Cold Case Christianity had some good episodes which touched on this subject between March and June 2016

Faith in the word, we need to look at the chain of custody, as well as our obligations and mandates from Jesus.

Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. ~John 7:7 NKJV

Did not the Christ tell us, our time is always ready? In that, could we not accept these words, by faith, that we are to do a great many things, as per the mandate from Christ in the Great Commission, as well as many other things! Are we not to share our faith, as the Apostle Peter warned us? (see 1 Peter 3:15)

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear    ~1 Peter 3:15 NKJV

New Testament chain of custody, which was reasonably researched and gleaned from church history and from the writings of those involved. I received this freely from Cold Case Christianity and pass it on to you that you may know the truth of the matter and the truth of the chain of custody of the Word of God.

copy of new testament chain of custody insert

Also you can obtain other tidbits of info in other areas. Such as, for one, the Book of Isaiah was obtained and intact in the Qumran digs back in the 1946-1956, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. The Book of Isaiah in that archaeological find was 1000 years older than any other in hand at that time. I was transcribed and was shown to be 99% accurate. This one additional proof that the scribes that transcribed these important books of the Bible were carefully copied.

And when someone tells you that there is a bias…guess what? Everyone has a bias, no matter who they are. Christians desire it to be true and based upon the evidences, they atheist_teen_girlare true. Atheists want the Bible to be proven false. Which if you think about it…since they do not believe in God, they have no claim to truly argue about the Bible. The Bible is basically a manual of life’s moral requirements. I would argue that an Atheist possesses the position that since there is no God, all things are permissible. And if there is no God, why do they argue about a book inspired by someone they do no believe exists? We are reminded:

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God…” ~Psalm 14:1 NKJV

We show our love of God and Jesus through out lives and our daily habits. We each have a responsibility to God by loving Him! What was it that Jesus spoke?

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV

So, how do we love God? We must have a clean heart. Remember what Jesus said,

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. ~Matthew 15:18-19 NKJV

Clear your heart of these things and you will be on the road toward righteousness.

Now how do you love God with your mind? Flood it with God’s word, commentaries on His word, study His word, memorize His word, etc. Our minds are meant to bee used for doing good and God’s works; such as, missions work, bible studies, discussions, evangelizing, defending God’s word, etc.

Now how do you love God with all your soul? Well, I thought Greg Simas had a great article, HOW TO LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, on this very subject:

  1. Love the Lord with all your soul by making godly choices.

  2. Love the Lord with all your soul by pursuing obedience to His Word.

  3. Love the Lord with all your soul by pursuing a life of humility in attitudes and speech.

To love the Lord with all your soul means to love Him in the way we live, in the choices we make, and in the behavior and lifestyle we adopt.


We also need to look at something else and that is the martyrdom that had occurred with the other 10 Apostles. Judas hung himself so he does not count, John died of old age and again he does not count. But all the other Apostles died horrible and torturous deaths. Now the question that must be asked is this one: Would you die for something you did not believe in? Probably not, and it is highly probable that the Apostles were the same way. Also, their being martyred does not necessarily prove the Bible was true not that Jesus was the Son of God; however, it does prove that they believed what they taught and evangelized to the world. That is an important thing to remember!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy

Where Is The Urgency In My Life & In My Heart?

Where is my sense of urgency?

Where is my desire to follow His Word?

Where is my sense of purpose?

Where is my joy of life?

Why shouldn’t I feel something different, or act differently?

Where is the burning desire in my heart?

These are but a few of the multitude of questions I ask God and myself when I am downtrodden and feeling as though I am taken to task. When it comes to God’s work, His word, our lives, our purpose, our vocation versus an avocation…we all should have a sense of urgency. Sadly, very few of us ever seem to portray nor act out such an urgency with respect to our purpose in this life. We each stand in the light of such judgement and we need to, each of us, begin acting with such urgency to carry out the Will of God who created each and everyone of us.

The Son of the Most High God, Jesus, the second leg of the Trinity, the Messiah, gave us a mandate for us to live our lives as examples to others. We are to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 NKJV) And we are reminded that, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15 NKJV) Hear me when I say this, it is not I but God who mandated these things, who inspired these things. We are reminded “Behold, I am coming quickly!..” (Revelation 3:11 NKJV) This in and of itself should call each of us to arms for the Lord’s purpose to evangelize the world, teach our neighbors, preach the word of God, and to learn the skills of apologetics based upon biblical historicity and the fine art of debate and argumentation based upon facts.


There is a stairway to heaven offered to each of us; however, we will not walk such a path unless we repent before God and change our ways. As I have mentioned so many times before within the context of this blog site and I say it again:

the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” ~Genesis 8:21 NKJV

your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you…” ~Isaiah 59:2 NKJV

We, as the species of man, are evil. This is not because God created us, but rather because we have the right to choose. And again, as I have mentioned so many times before on this site, choice is the greatest gift and, at the same time, the greatest curse that we possess. From the very beginning we started out as good, but then we chose to do what was wrong in God’s sight. Of course we waited at least seven days, at least I assume that. If you doubt me, you might consider re-reading Genesis 3.

Urgency was experienced in man at that time. Urgency was experienced by those who built the ark and those who were trapped by the flood waters. Urgency was experienced by Abraham when he fought to save Lot from his captors. We are in a constant state of urgency, excepting when we are dealing with God’s word and our fellow man and his soul. We have, now-a-days, a greater sense of urgency to find a parking spot closer to the grocery store entrance than to speak to our fellow man about the love of Christ!


I have been off the last 9 days from my job, vacation…or, stay-cation… I have done more to get certain things done around the house, as opposed to studying God’s word, or reviewing/learning God’s scriptures. It is a sad reality that we come in contact with as we reflect upon ourselves. But when such a reality slaps us in the face…what do we do about it? Most will blow it off as a bad feeling. There are others who will see it as a warning, of sorts. And still others will make a positive note of their failing and try to do better in the future…with an emphasis on doing better. Still, we have this tendency of failing.

This is one of my biggest failings, in that, I have always had a problem of applying what I have learned and placed it into actual action. I have several degrees, not boasting just noting that this failing of mine has held me back in many respects. Perhaps it is part of my generation (tail end of the “Baby Boomer” generation.) Perhaps it is how I was trained to do things and despite all that I have done to better my circumstances I have additionally failed to find my way out of this pit I have dug myself into. There are a plethora of possible answers to my dilemma, but no matter how you approach it or look at it…sooner or later you must apply what you have learned to get a little further beyond where you are at this particular time. Perhaps this was a way that God would use to hold me back until I was ready for what He had planned for me to do. All things are possible!

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28 NKJV

Then a whole new list of conundrum queries come to light while thinking of this scriptural reference.

  1. If I keep failing God, do I really love Him?
  2. How can I continue to love my God if I continue to sin?
  3. etc., etc., etc.

Trust me, there are more, but these are always at the top of my list of questions, but perhaps delving into these are meant for another blog post.

The basis of this post was to poke or prod you, as well as myself, into developing a sense of urgency on your life with God!

Godspeed, my friends!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy


We Are Messengers to All of Mankind

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me ~Ezekiel 3:17 NKJV


The word from God’s mouth is His word, His Bible…or our manual for life and death and all that is in between! We are each endowed with the mandate to warn our fellow man, our neighbors, our family. We are mandated to teach our children in the ways of God’s Word as laid out in the Bible. We are to lead our family, just as Christ lead His Apostles and all other who followed His wisdom.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.~Deuteronomy 6:7 NKJV

To be messengers to all others we must first share that message with our own family. While teaching the message to our spouse and along with our spouse teach our children. In so teaching our children we also teach our oldest child to lead by having them aid in the teaching of their sibling. Each child, thereafter, must also teach their younger sibling. We all have varying ways of teaching our friends and all others we come in contact with. Some of us have truly failed in such an endeavor, and in so doing…we will answer these sins when we have drawn our last breath.

We go to Bible Study, take classes in school, on-line courses, we follow Bible Study courses, and varying other means of learning the Bible and the Word of God, as well as church history. Recently, I signed up for a course at Bible Mesh. I started off with a free course, same thing with Udemy. And there are other sites I have signed up with and taken free courses. It is through the quality of the free courses that you can soon find out how serious these companies of learning are geared toward truly teaching. If they accomplish a quality course for free, just imagine how powerful a course that has a cost attached to it will be?

There are numerous bible studies out there on-line that are awesome and powerful. But you have to spend your time looking and studying through them in order to determine such for yourself.

podcastI have heard from many of those I listen on podcasts, and reading their blogs, etc. that you need to get started in doing something. We each must do so in order to share God’s word and teaching. I am no different than any other person out there who believed that I needed to know more, to be more prepared, more knowledgeable…you know the drill, I am certain of it. If you are reading this blog post, you have had that moment at some point in time and you thought the very same thing! Believe it or not…you do not. Just do what it is that you wanted to do in order to share vlogGod’s word, Jesus’ teachings, etc.

Start a blog! Start a vlog! Start a podcast! Just start writing a Bible Study and share it! Create some videos! Create an app for a smartphone. Do something! How about just talking to your neighbors, your neighbor kids, your friends, your siblings, etc. Start a Bible Study, kind of like what Mr. Sperry did in The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry (2008). There are all sorts of YouTube videos that can lead you through your heart’s desired format.

We each can be a messenger for God and Jesus in numerous ways. All you have to do is start. Start somewhere and do something!

These were the words of numerous people in my life, most recently by J. Warner Wallace whose podcast I listen to everyday at work. (I have been listening to his podcast as early as 2013 up to the present where I have gotten to about 2016. I just started listening to his show about 3-6 months ago after I had read his Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels& God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe.) Great books, by the way! However, his podcasts Ten Reasons We Fail To Share Our Faith – Part 1 and Ten Reasons We Fail To Share Our Faith – Part 2 give us the top ten excuses that we use to not share our faith. We were all given the same mandate to share God’s word and the teachings of Jesus!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you… ~Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV 

We are destined to do great things; however, we are not all destined to live an easy life. While it is easy to make choices (even the right and proper ones) it will be a hard life to lead and live. Why? Because we each will lose our friends and companions in this life. If we cling to our companions in this life we will be telling God and Christ that we do not love them.

If you love Me, keep My commandments. ~John 14:15 NKJV

We each have the ability to yield ourselves to God and Christ. In so doing, we will ultimately save ourselves by abiding by God’s word and the teachings of Christ. Strictly abiding by Their words and teachings. By holding to the words and teachings we learn through the Bible, guided by prayer and through the Holy Spirit we can shall and will ultimately do the will of the one true living God!

So, what is holding you back now?? Begin to do something…NOW! Or, when would NOW be a good time to start doing something?

Godspeed my friends!

May God Richly Bless You, My Beloved!

MK Murphy



Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

I read this and thought you would like it, as well!

MK Murphy


Cold Case Christianity: UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

UPDATED: Are Young People Really Leaving Christianity?

Posted: 11 Jan 2019 11:43 PM PST

(Updated on January 12th, 2019)

Much has been written about both the Biblical illiteracy of teenage believers and the flight of young people from the Church. Many have observed this trend, and I too have witnessed it anecdotally as a youth pastor (and shamefully, I contributed to the trend for some time before I changed course). Some writers and Christian observers deny the flight of young people altogether, but the growing statistics should alarm us enough as Church leaders to do something about the dilemma. My hope in this post is to simply consolidate some of the research (many of the summaries are directly quoted) so you can decide for yourself. I’m going to organize the recent findings in a way that illuminates the problem:

Research Related to Spiritual Life of Teenagers:

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press, 2005

Book Findings: The majority of teenagers are incredibly inarticulate about their faith, religious beliefs and practices, and its place in their lives. The de facto dominant religion among contemporary U.S. teenagers is what they call ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’: A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth; God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions; the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem; and good people go to heaven when they die.

Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church

Kenda Creasy Dean, Oxford University Press, 2010

Book Findings: Dean affirms what Soul Searching called ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change

Barbara A. Lewis, Free Spirit Publishing, 2007

Book Findings: More teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God. Yet there’s been an “explosion” in youth service since 1995 that Lewis attributes to more schools emphasizing community service.

The State of Theology

Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research (2015)

Study Findings: In this survey of theological beliefs, researchers asked self-professing Christians to respond to a series of statements related to classic, historic Christian doctrine. In every answer offered related to these theological beliefs, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents. Young people who identify themselves as Christians, are far more likely to hold views that aren’t Christian.

Research Related to the Attitude of College Professors:

Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty

Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter, Neil Nevitte (2005)

Study Findings: “Nearly three-quarters” (72%) of faculty members describe themselves as politically liberal, according to 1999 data from the North American Academic Study Survey (NAASS), up from 39 percent in a 1984 survey by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

How Religious are America’s College and University Professors?

Neil Gross, Solon Simmons (2006)

Study Findings: About 25% of college professors are professing atheists or agnostics (5-7% of the general population is atheistic or agnostic). Only 6% of college professors said the Bible is “the actual word of God”. 51% described it as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts.” 75% believe religion does not belong in public schools.

The Religious Beliefs and Behavior of College Faculty

The Institute for Jewish & Community Research Review – Staff (2007)

Study Findings: The study revealed several findings related to the political and religious views of professors, including the following key discoveries:

“Most Faculty Believe in God, but Atheism Is Significantly More Prevalent among Faculty Than the General Public

The proportion of faculty who self-identified as atheist is over five times the proportion of people who self-identified as atheist in the general public.

Faculty Are Much Less Religious Than the General Public

The American public is much more likely to say that religion is very important in their everyday lives and to attend religious services more frequently than faculty.

Faculty Feel Warmly about Most Religious Groups, but Feel Coldly about Evangelicals and Mormons

Faculty have positive feelings toward Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, and Atheists.

Faculty Feel Most Unfavorably about Evangelical Christians

This is the only religious group about which a majority of non-Evangelical faculty have negative feelings.

Faculty Are Almost Unanimous in Their Belief That Evangelical Christians (Fundamentalists) Should Keep Their Religious Beliefs Out of American Politics

Faculty who are secular/liberal are more likely to favor separation of religion and government, and those who are religious and conservative are more likely to advocate a closer connection between religion and government.

Although Faculty Generally Oppose Religion in the Public Sphere, Many Endorse the Idea That Muslims Should Express Their Religious Beliefs in American Politics

Faculty are far less likely to endorse Evangelical Christians expressing their beliefs in American politics.”

Compromising Scholarship; Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education

George Yancey (2011)

Book Findings: “Religiously conservative academics are at a distinct disadvantage in our institutions of learning, threatening the free exchange of ideas to which our institutions aspire and leaving many scientific inquiries unexplored.”

Research Related to the Decreasing Christian Population in General

American Religious Identification Survey

Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar (2001)

Study Findings: The number of people who identify themselves as Christian has dropped from 85% in 1990 to 76% in 2008. About 52% of American adults identify themselves as Protestant or other non-Catholic Christian denominations, according to the. That’s down from 60% in 1990.

America’s Changing Religious Landscape

Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “The percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.”

Gallop Religious Identification Poll

Gallop Daily Tracking, Frank Newport (2015)

Study Findings: While the number of Americans identifying as Christians is still high (75%), it has dropped 5% since 2008

Five Key Findings on Religion in the U.S.

Gallop National Poll (2016)

Study Findings: This national poll about the religious affiliation of Americans revealed the following (among other findings):

1. America remains a largely Christian nation, although less so than in the past. 74% of Americans identify as some form a Christian, only 5% identify as affiliated with a non-Christian religion. when last polled in 2008, 80% of Americans identified themselves as Christian.

2. The trend away from formal religion continues. Approximately 21% of Americans say they are either atheist, agnostic, or have no religious affiliation. This is up 6% since 2008.

3. Americans continue to say that religion is losing its influence in American society. 72% of Americans say that religion is losing its influence on American life.

The Persistent and Exceptional Intensity of American Religion: A Response to Recent Research

Sociological Science Study (2017)

Study Findings: This study, examining General Social Surveys from 1989 to 2016, found the following:

1. The number of people who report they are strongly affiliated with a religion is in the minority but does not appear to have changed much from 1990 to 2015.

2. Less than 40% of Americans say they have strong religious affiliations. Those who say they are not strongly affiliated are leaving the church, down from approximately 55% in 1990 to approximately 42% in 2015. Those who claim no affiliation with religion have grown from 8% of the population to approximately 22% during the same time.

3. Only approximately 8% of the populations attends church multiple times in a week. The number of people who said they attended “sometimes” has dropped from approximately 79% to 69% from 1990 to 2015. Those who never attend church has risen from 14% to nearly 25% in the same time frame.

4. Approximately 33% of the [population described the Bible as the “Literal Word of God”. The number of people who describe the Bible as “Inspired, But Not Literal, has dropped from approximately 53% to 47% from 1990 to 2015. The number of people who describe the Bible as a “Book of Fables” has risen from approximately 15% to 21% during that time.

5. The number of people who identify as “Evangelical” has remained somewhat steady during this time frame, at approximately 29%. The number of people who identify as having a “Non-Evangelical” affiliation is down from approximately 66% to 51%. The number of people who say they have no religious affiliation is up from approximately 8% to 23% during this same time frame.

Research Related to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith
Tom Bisset, Discovery House Publishers (1997)

Book Findings: In this very early study, Tom Bisset interviewed people and asked them when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. He identified four prominent reasons:

1. They left because they had troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.

2. They left because their faith was not “working” for them.

3. They left because they allowed other things to take priority.

4. They left because they never personally owned their faith.

Southern Baptist Convention Data

Pinkney, T.C., Remarks to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, Nashville, Tennessee (2001)

Study Findings: Data from the Southern Baptist Convention indicates that they are currently losing 70-88% of their youth after their freshman year in college. 70% of teenagers involved in church youth groups stop attending church within two years of their high school graduation.

“The Religiosity Cycle”

Gallop Poll Study (2002)

Study Findings: The results indicate that teens are more religious during their early teen years, and that religiosity begins to decline as teens near adulthood. When asked, “How important are your religious beliefs?”, 63% of 13- to 15-year-olds answered “very important,” compared to 52% of 16- to 17-year-olds. Church attendance also drops during the teen and young adult years and begins to climb as adults age. Fifty-four percent of teens aged 13 to 15 reported having attended church in the past seven days, as did 51% of 16- to 17-year-old teens. The figure drops to 32% among 18- to 29- year-olds but rises again to 44% among 50- to 64-year-olds and 60% among those aged 75 and older. 69% percent of 13- to 15-year-olds report being members of a church or synagogue, compared to 59% of 16- to 17-year-olds, 60% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 80% of those aged 75 and older.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Family Life Council

Southern Baptist Council on Family Life report to Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (2002)

Study Findings:  88% of the children in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18


George Barna, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, IL (2005)

Book Findings: If current trends in the belief systems and practices of the younger generation continue, in ten years, church attendance will be half the size it is today.

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Oxford University Press (2005)

Book Findings: Students leave faith behind primarily because of intellectual doubt and skepticism (page 89). “Why did they fall away from the faith in which they were raised?” This was an open-ended question there were no multiple-choice answers. 32% said they left faith behind because of intellectual skepticism or doubt. (“It didn’t make any sense anymore.” “Some stuff is too far-fetched for me to believe.” “I think scientifically and there is no real proof.” “Too many questions that can’t be answered.”)

“Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf…”

Barna Study (2006)

Study Findings: A majority of twenty-somethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged.

The Last Christian Generation

Josh McDowell,  David H. Bellis, Green Key Books (2006)

Book Findings: 63% of teenaged Christians don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 51% don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. 68% don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is a real entity. Only 33% of churched youth have said that the church will play a part in their lives when they leave home.

Assemblies of God Study

Dayton A. Kingsriter (2007)

Study Findings: At least half and possibly over two-thirds of Christian young people will step away from the Christian faith while attending a non-Christian college or university. Between 50% and 66.7% of Assemblies of God young
people who attend a non-Christian public or private university will have left the faith
four years after entering college.

LifeWay Research Study

LifeWay Research and Ministry Development (2007)

Study Findings: 70% will leave the faith in college. Only 35% eventually return. 7 in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 – both evangelical and mainline – who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church. “The most frequent reason for leaving church is, in fact, a self-imposed change, ‘I simply wanted a break from church’ (27%).” “The path toward college and the workforce are also strong reasons for young people to leave church: ‘I moved to college and stopped attending church’ (25%) and ‘work responsibilities prevented me from attending’ (23%).”


Barna Research Group director David Kinnaman, Baker Books; (2007)

Book Findings: Christians in their 20s are “significantly less likely to believe a person’s faith in God is meant to be developed by involvement in a local church. This life stage of spiritual disengagement is not going to fade away.”

Rethink: Is Student Ministry Working?

Steve Wright, InQuest Ministries, Inc. (2007)

Book Findings: 63% don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God. 58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths. 51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. 65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity. 68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity

Religious and Political Self-Identification, 1990-2008

Barry A. Kosmin & Juhem Navarro-Rivera (2008)

Study Findings: This research, based on the American Religious Identification Survey 2008, addresses the religious beliefs and behaviors of those born from the early to mid-1960s to the late 1970s to early 1980s:

1. Generation X has weakened its ties to Christianity (85% in 1990 v. 75% in 2008)

2. Generation X has secularized over time. In 1990 11% were Nones compared to16% in 2008; 13% of Generation X did not identify with a religion (including Don’t Know and refusals) in 1990, compared to 21% in 2008

3. Generation X Christian groups became more female dominated over time (with the exception of the Protestant Sects) while the Nones and Other Religions became more male dominated.

Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults

Christian Smith, Patricia Snell (2009)

Book Findings: Among American adults, emerging adults are significantly less religious.
Generally speaking, the importance and practice of religion declines among young adults. No more than 15% of the total emerging adult population, embrace a strong religious faith. 30% tend to customize their faith to fit the rest of their lives. They often have strong religious upbringing but tend to be more discriminating about what they will adopt. A smaller group, about 15%, believe in some higher power but are not sure what that is or means. About 25% of the emerging adult population may claim to be religious or even appreciate religion—but it simply does not matter. 5% of all emerging adults have had little to no exposure to religious people, ideas, or organizations. 10% of emerging adults are  skeptical of religion and reject the idea of personal faith. They tend to hold critical, derogatory, and antagonistic attitudes towards religion.

The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church

Jossey-Bass, San Francisco (2009)

Book Findings: 90% of youth active in high school church programs drop out of church by the time they are sophomores on college.

Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it

Ken Ham, Britt Beemer, with Todd Hillard, New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (2009)

Book Findings: Church youth already are “lost” in their hearts and minds in elementary, middle and high school – not in college as many assume.

After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion

Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University Press (2010)

Book Findings: “Unless religious leaders take younger adults more seriously, the future of American religion is in doubt.” The proportion of young adults identifying with mainline churches, is “about half the size it was a generation ago. Evangelical Protestants have barely held their own.”

“Spirituality in Higher Education”: The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA

Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm (2010)

Study Findings: 52% of college students reported frequent church attendance the year before they entered college but only 29% continued frequent church attendance by their junior year.

College Transition Project

The Fuller Youth Institute (2010)

Study Findings: Current data seems “to suggest that about 40-50% of students in youth groups struggle in their faith after graduation.”

Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith… and How to Bring Them Back

Drew Dyck, Moody Publishers (2010)

Book Findings: The departure of young people from the Church is acknowledged and several categories of “leavers” are identified, including “Post Modern Leavers”, “Recoilers”, “Modern Leavers”, “Neo Pagans”, “Rebels” and “Drifters.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith

David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings: Nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15.

Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood

Christian Smith with Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson and Patricia Snell Herzog, Oxford University Press (2011)

Book Findings: Young adults are unable to think coherently about moral beliefs and problems. Young adults have an excessive focus on consumption and materialism as the good life. The prevalent lifestyle of young adults includes routine intoxication and drug usage. The sexual encounters of young adults are not practiced in an environment of physical, mental, or emotional health. Young adults appear to have an inability to care about, invest in, and hope for the larger world through civic and political participation.

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

Larry Taunton, Fixed Point Foundation (2013)

Study Findings: Taunton interviewed members of atheist college groups (the Secular Student Alliance and Freethought Societies). “These college groups are the atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade: They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize. They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious.” Taunton eventually recognized an emerging pattern in those he interviewed, and he identified several characteristics of young “determinedly irreligious” college students:

1. They had attended church at one time

2. The mission and message of their churches was vague

3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions

4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously

5. Ages 14-17 were decisive

6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one

7. The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

Churchless: Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect With Them

George Barna and David Kinnaman, Tyndale Momentum (2014)

Book Findings: Barna Group conducted tens of thousands of interviews with unchurched people and discovered the following:

1. The number of churchless Americans has jumped by nearly one-third in just 20 years

2. If unchurched Americans were their own nation, they’d be the eighth largest on Earth

3. The younger you are, the more likely you are to never have been to church

4. The younger the generation, the more post-Christian it is

America’s Changing Religious Landscape

Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: “While many U.S. religious groups are aging, the unaffiliated are comparatively young – and getting younger, on average, over time… One of the most important factors in the declining share of Christians and the growth of the “nones” is generational replacement. As the Millennial generation enters adulthood, its members display much lower levels of religious affiliation, including less connection with Christian churches, than older generations. Fully 36% of young Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 24) are religiously unaffiliated, as are 34% of older Millennials (ages 25-33)… As a rising cohort of highly unaffiliated Millennials reaches adulthood, the median age of unaffiliated adults has dropped to 36, down from 38 in 2007 and far lower than the general (adult) population’s median age of 46.4 By contrast, the median age of mainline Protestant adults in the new survey is 52 (up from 50 in 2007), and the median age of Catholic adults is 49 (up from 45 seven years earlier).”

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship

Pew Research Center (2015)

Study Findings: In this seemingly unrelated study, researchers surveyed religious “nones” (78%) who said they were raised as a member of a particular religion before shedding their religious identity in adulthood, and asked them to explain, in their own words, why they no longer identified with a religious group. They discovered the following themes:

About 50% said a “lack of belief led them to move away from religion. This includes many respondents who mention ‘science’ as the reason they do not believe in religious teachings, including one who said ‘I’m a scientist now, and I don’t believe in miracles.’ Others reference ‘common sense,’ ‘logic’ or a ‘lack of evidence’ – or simply say they do not believe in God.”

About 20% said they were in “opposition to organized religion in general. This share includes some who do not like the hierarchical nature of religious groups, several people who think religion is too much like a business and others who mention clergy sexual abuse scandals as reasons for their stance.”

About 18% said they were “religiously unsure. This include(d) people who (said) they (were) religious in some way despite being unaffiliated (e.g., ‘I believe in God, but in my own way’), others who describe(d) themselves as ‘seeking enlightenment’ or ‘open-minded,’ and several who (said) they are ‘spiritual’ if not religious.”

About 10% said they “may hold certain religious beliefs, but they (were) not currently taking part in religious practices. And most of them simply (said) they (didn’t) go to church or engage in other religious rituals, while others (said) they (were) too busy for religion.”

Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back

Betsy Cooper, Ph.D., Daniel Cox, Ph.D., Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., Public Religious Research Institute (2016)

Study Findings: “Today, nearly four in ten (39%) young adults (ages 18-29) are religiously unaffiliated—three times the unaffiliated rate (13%) among seniors (ages 65 and older). While previous generations were also more likely to be religiously unaffiliated in their twenties, young adults today are nearly four times as likely as young adults a generation ago to identify as religiously unaffiliated. In 1986, for example, only 10% of young adults claimed no religious affiliation. Among young adults, the religiously unaffiliated dwarf the percentages of other religious identifications: Catholic (15%), white evangelical Protestant (9%), white mainline Protestant (8%), black Protestant (7%), other non-white Protestants (11%), and affiliation with a non-Christian religion (7%).”

“In the 1970s, only about one-third (34%) of Americans who were raised in religiously unaffiliated households were still unaffiliated as adults. By the 1990s, slightly more than half (53%) of Americans who were unaffiliated in childhood retained their religious identity in adulthood. Today, about two-thirds (66%) of Americans who report being raised outside a formal religious tradition remain unaffiliated as adults.”

More importantly, the study found that most Americans who leave their childhood religion do so before reaching adulthood. 79% percent of young adults age 18 to 29 who become religiously unaffiliated report making this decision during their adolescent and teen years. In years prior, those who abandon religious belief reported doing so much later. Only 38% of people over the age of 65, for example, reported leaving their religion during their childhood years.

CARA National Study

Mark M. Gray, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (2016)

Study Findings: (While CARA only surveys young Catholic believers, their results parallel the findings of Christian surveys as reported in this article). “The first CARA study, commissioned by Saint Mary’s Press, involved a survey with a random, national sample of young people, ages 15 to 25, who had been raised Catholic but no longer self-identified as such. The second CARA study, made possible through funding from the John Templeton Foundation, involved a survey of a random sample of self-identified Catholics, ages 18 and older, and focused on matters of religion and science.” Most young people said they left the Church by the age of 13: 63 percent said they left between the ages of 10 and 17. 23 percent say they left before the age of 10. Those who left cited the following reasons:

“Because I grew up realized it was a story like Santa or the Easter Bunny.”

“As I learn more about the world around me and understand things that I once did not, I find that the thought of an all-powerful being to be less and less believable.”

“Catholic beliefs aren’t based on fact. Everything is hearsay from back before anything could be documented, so nothing can be disproved, but it certainly shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

“I realized that religion is in complete contradiction with the rational and scientific world, and to continue to subscribe to a religion would be hypocritical.”

“Need proof of something.”

“It no longer fits into what I understand of the universe.”

NextGen Research

Larry Barnett, Next Generation Project (2016)

Study Findings: The NextGen research revealed the following key points:

1. Christianity’s decline in the U.S. spans every population segment – young and old, male and female, within every race, at all income and educational levels, and in every geographic region.

2. The presence or absence of doubt was found to be the single best predictor of Christian affiliation and spiritual health, compared to several hundred other factors.

3. Adults (and teens) who are younger, highly educated, knowledgeable, high-achieving, technologically engaged individuals who may have religiously diverse friends are the most likely to leave the faith.

CIRP Freshman Survey

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (2017)

Study Findings: The CIRP Freshmen Survey of first-time students at 184 U.S. colleges and universities collects data on incoming college students’ background characteristics, high school experiences, attitudes, behaviors, and expectations for college. This survey revealed the following key points:

31 percent of incoming freshmen are religiously unaffiliated, a threefold increase since 1986, when just 10 percent identified this way. Because the survey is administered to students before they arrive on campus, the decline of religious identity noted in these cross-sectional studies cannot be attributed to college experience. Religious attendance is also falling precipitously among incoming students.

Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation

Barna Research Group (2018)

Study Findings: Barna’s most comprehensive research study investigating the perceptions, experiences and motivations of 13- to 18-year-olds in Generation Z, reports the following:

1. 59% of students in this age group Identify as Christian or Catholic (down from 75% for “Elders”). 21% say they are atheist or agnostic (up from 11% for “Elders’). 14% say they have no religious affiliation (up from 9% for “Elders”)

2. Students in this age group offer the following “barriers to faith”:

a. “I have a hard time believing that a good God would allow so much evil or suffering in the world” (29%)

b. “Christians are hypocrites” (23%)

c. “I believe science refutes too much of the Bible” (20%)

d. “I don’t believe in fairy tales (19%)

e. “There are too many injustices in the history of Christianity” (15%)

f. “I used to go to church but it’s not important to me anymore” (12%)

g. “I had a bad experience at church with a Christian” (6%)

3. Students in this age group struggle to reconcile science with the Bible. 24% side with science (up from 16% for “Boomers”). 31% believe science and the Bible refer to difference aspects of reality (up from 25% for “Boomers”). 28% believe science and the Bible can be used to support each other (down from 45% for “Boomers). 17% consider themselves on the side of the Bible (up from 13% for “Boomers”, but down from 19% for “Millennials”).

4. Students in this age group hold positive perceptions of the church in the following areas:

a. The church is a place to find answers to live a meaningful life (82%)

b. The church is relevant for my life (82%)

c. I feel like I can “be myself” at church (77%)

d. The people at church are tolerant of those with different beliefs (63%)

5. Students in this age group hold negative perceptions of the church in the following areas:

a. The church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world (495)

b. The church is overprotective of teenagers (38%)

c. The people at church are hypocritical (36%)

d. The church is not a safe place to express doubts (27%)

e. The faith and teaching I encounter at church seem rather shallow (24%)

f. The church seems too much like an exclusive club (17%)

6. When students in this age group were asked why they didn’t think church was important, they gave the following reasons:

a. “The church is not relevant to me” (59%)

b. “I find God elsewhere” (48%)

c. “I can teach myself what I need to know” (28%)

d. “I think church is out of date” (20%)

e. “I don’t like the people who are in church” (15%)

f. “The rituals of church are empty” (12%)

ABC News / Washington Post Religious Affiliation Poll

Langer Research Associates (2018)

Study Findings: Based on 174,485 interviews from ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls conducted by telephone from 2003 to 2017, the study found that young people age 18-29 are increasingly non-religious, at a pace that far exceeds their older counterparts. From 2003 to 2017, the number of 18-29 year-olds who identify as non-religious has increased 16% (from 19% to 35% of the American population), while the percentage of Americans over the age of 50 who identify as non-religious has only increased 5% (from 8% to 13%).

When Americans Say They Believe in God, What Do They Mean?

Pew Research Center (2018)

Study Findings: This survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults found that there is a broad discrepancy related to belief about God between 18-29 year-olds and older generations:

Those who believe in God as described in the Bible: 43% of 18-29 year-olds / 65% of Boomers

The survey also found that among people who believe in God or a higher power, young people are less likely to believe that God is active and engaged:

Those who believe God Loves all people, despite their faults: 67% of 18-29 year-olds / 83% of Boomers

Those who believe God has protected them: 68% of 18-29 year-olds / 83% of Boomers

Those who believe God knows everything: 63% of 18-29 year-olds / 76% of Boomers

Those who believe God has rewarded them: 61% of 18-29 year-olds / 68% of Boomers

Those who believe God has the power to direct / change everything: 52% of 18-29 year-olds / 67% of Boomers

Those who believe God determines what happens in their lives: 41% of 18-29 year-olds / 51% of Boomers

Those who believe God has punished them: 44% of 18-29 year-olds / 33% of Boomers

Those who believe God has talked to them: 21% of 18-29 year-olds / 31% of Boomers

Interestingly, this survey also found that young people, when they do think about God, are more likely to think of Him as a punishing Deity than their older counterparts.

Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics

Saint Mary’s Press Catholic Research Group and The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (2018)

Study Findings: While this is a Catholic study, there exist many parallels with evangelical studies conducted over the past 10 years. This two-year national study on why young people are leaving the Catholic Church found that young ex-Catholics (the vast majority of which now identify themselves as “religious nones”) are leaving Catholicism for the following reasons:

1. “They perceive organized religion as having corrupted Jesus’ fundamental teachings.”

2.”They see the church’s dogmas and doctrines as nonsensical.”

3. “They believe they can live more moral lives without the baggage of religion.”

4. “Many perceive that religion was forced on them.”

5. “They report feeling freer and happier without what they experience as the burden of religion.”

“When asked at what age they no longer identified themselves as Catholic, 74 percent of the sample said between the ages of 10 and 20, with the median age being 13 years old.”

Millennials and Their Retention Since Confirmation: A Survey of LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) Congregations

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (2018)

Study Findings: This comprehensive survey of 184 LCMA congregations found the following:

Congregations reported that only 1-in-3 of young people who were confirmed between 2004-2006 still worship at an LCMS church today:

30% of these young people left before they graduated high school

34% left after they graduated high school

The study also found that LCMS churches retained young believers at a much higher rate if:

1. They retain their youth pastor or youth leaders over a long period of time (“The data is clear that local retention when the pastor changes is substantially lower.”)

2. Their church leadership was generally younger (“Congregations with young adult leaders did better in all measures of retention. They were more likely to retain young people through graduation, they produced a greater number of confirmands that remain in the LCMS, they retained more in their own church body, and they even attract more young adults today.”)

3. Their youth group is larger (“Based on average weekly attendance, large congregations both confirm higher numbers of young people and retain more of their confirmands in the LCMS, regardless of whether they stay at their home congregation.”)

While this survey of books and studies is less than complete, it does provide us with powerful cumulative, circumstantial evidence supporting the claim that young people are leaving the Church in large numbers. More importantly, it appears that most of these young people are leaving prior to their experiences in college. But, while universities may not be the chief cause of the youth exodus, they certainly play a role in affirming and strengthening a secular worldview in the minds of young people who have already left the faith. Some studies have attempted to isolate potential responses that can be employed by parents and Church leaders:

Research Related to Potential Responses to the Flight of Young People from the Church

Youth Theological Initiative at Emory University in Georgia.

Elizabeth Corrie

Book Findings: There appears to be no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the version of Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them “to change anything that’s broken in the world.” Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on. “We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens’ religious apathy. “…The gospel of niceness can’t teach teens how to confront tragedy. It can’t bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can’t I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?”

Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults

Christian Smith, Patricia Snell, Oxford University Press (2009)

Book Findings: Parents are the most crucial and powerful socializers in the lives of their adolescents. The adolescent years are not the time to disengage as a parent. Growing adolescent independence often necessitates negotiation. If adolescents experience parents who are religiously withdrawn and functionally absent, then the faith of an emerging adult likely will also be vacuous, directionless, and empty. The more adults involved in the lives of adolescents, the better off they will be. This will mean that ministries to youth and families must find ways to incorporate loving, agenda-free adults into the lives of the ministry. Ministries to youth matter now more than ever. With the breakdown of the family and the systemic erosion of adult support, congregational youth ministers are more necessary than ever before.

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media (2010)

Bradley R. E. Wright, Bethany House (2010)

Book Findings: Parents of students who did not leave the church emphasized religion twice as much as those who students who left the church. Students who stayed in church through college said that the first thing they do when they have doubts or questions was to talk to their parents and then read their Bibles.

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith

David Kinnaman, Baker Books (2011)

Book Findings: Nearly 25% of the 18- to 29-year-olds interviewed said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” most of the time. 22% also said the church ignores real-world problems and 18% said that their church was too concerned about the negative impact of movies, music and video games. 33% of survey participants felt that “church is boring.” 20% of those who attended as a teenager said that God appeared to be missing from their experience of church. Many young adults do not like the way churches appear to be against science. Over 33% of young adults said that “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” and 25% of them said that “Christianity is anti-science.” 17% percent of young Christians say they’ve “made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” Two out of five young adult Catholics said that the church’s teachings on birth control and sex are “out of date.” 29% of young Christians said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and feel they have to choose between their friends and their faith. Over 33% of young adults said they feel like they can’t ask life’s most pressing questions in church and 23% said they had “significant intellectual doubts” about their faith.

Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations

Vern L. Bengtson. Norella M. Putney, Susan Harris, Oxford University Press (2013)

Book Findings: Several key findings were discovered in this 35-year study of families, focusing on the question of how religion is passed across generations:

1. Parents continue to be the single greatest influence on their children’s faith.

2. When a child sees and hears that faith actually makes a difference in Mom and Dad’s lives, they’re much more likely to follow suit.

3. Young adults are more likely to share their parents’ religious beliefs and participation if they feel that they have a close relationship with those parents.

4. Young Christians who leave the faith are far more likely to return when parents have been patient and supportive – and perhaps more tolerant and open than they had been before the prodigal’s departure.

5 Reasons Millennials Stay Connected to Church

Barna Study (2013)

Study Findings: This research included a series of national public opinion surveys conducted by Barna Group to find the most effective ways to keep millennials connected to the church. The listed the following strategies:

1. Develop meaningful relationships with millennials

2. Teach millennials to study and discern what’s happening in the culture

3. Help millennials discover their own mission in the world, rather than ask them to wait their turn

4. Teach millennials a more potent theology of vocation, or calling.

5. Help millennials develop a lasting faith by facilitating a deeper sense of intimacy with God

Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith

Jana Magruder and Ben Trueblood (2018)

Book / Study Findings: A study was conducted by Shelby Systems in preparation for the publication of this book. The study surveyed 2,000 Protestant and nondenominational churchgoers who attended services at least once a month and have adult children ages 18 to 30 who are still believers. They found the following “Predictors of Spiritual Health for Young Adults”:

Child regularly read the Bible while growing up.

Child regularly spent time in prayer while growing up.

Child regularly served in church while growing up.

Child listened primarily to Christian music.

Child participated in church mission trips/projects.

In addition, they found that parents who had successfully passed on their faith to their children typically were involved in the following activities:

Reading the Bible several times a week.

Taking part in a service project or church mission trip as a family.

Sharing their faith with unbelievers.

Encouraging teenagers to serve in church.

Asking forgiveness when they messed up as parents.

Encouraging their children’s unique talents and interests.

Taking annual family vacations.

Attending churches with teaching that emphasized what the Bible says.

Teaching their children to tithe.

There you have it; a short summary of some of the research being done on the exodus of young people from the Church and some of the reasons they give for their departure. Can a case be made that young Christians are leaving the Church in record numbers? Yes. Can a case be made that many of these young people are leaving because the culture around them has impacted them deeply and caused them to question the truth claims of Christianity? Yes, again. So, what are we going to do about it? What can be done? Visit our Youth section to get a few ideas.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Apologetics at Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

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