Millennials and the Bible

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Last week I wrote about how important reading the Bible is to Muslims coming to faith in Jesus.  Today in this Breakpoint Radio Commentary, Eric Metaxas talks about how young people in western society view the Bible.

“Want to offend a Millennial?  You could just open your Bible and read it in front of him.  But if you live out the teachings of Scripture, you just might win them over.

Millennials is the name for young adults aged 18 to 33.  While 55 percent of Baby Boomers say they’re religious, only 36 percent of Millennials do, with 29 percent of Millennials considering themselves religiously unaffiliated, a record post-war high.

So how is this rising generation connecting to the Bible?  Poorly!  A new study by the Barna Group states, “Non-Christian Millennials hold ambivalent and sometimes extremely negative views about the Bible.”  62 percent of non-Christian Millennials have never even read the Bible.  Yet nearly half of them believe “the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice.”

This is the kind of world we live in - one with tremendous ignorance of God’s Word.  It’s no wonder our USA has gone so far downhill.

The most common words they use to describe the Bible are “story,” “mythology,” “symbolic,” and “fairy tale.”  30 percent of Millennials state it’s a useful book of moral teachings, but another 27 percent agree that the Bible is “a dangerous book of religious dogma used for centuries to oppress people.”  Another 20% say it is “an outdated book with no relevance for today.”

I’m glad to say that the survey gives us some pointers on how to overcome this prejudice - and how not to do it.

Barna suggests that reading your Bible around a non-Christian Millennial is not likely to spark much spiritual interest – just the opposite actually.  According to Barna, “When they see someone reading the Bible in public, they assume the Bible reader is politically conservative; that they don’t have anything in common with the person; that the Bible reader is old fashioned; or that the person is trying to make a statement or be provocative.  Less than 1 in 10 non-Christian young adults indicate any kind of positive response.”

So what is a more effective approach among this age-group?  According to Barna, “personal interactions” with people who have benefited from the Bible tend to bear the most fruit.

Millennials value relationships.  We don’t need to be Bible scholars - although that’s helpful - but we do need to practice what the Bible preaches, and be neighbourly.

The survey also suggests that Millennials can hold orthodox views about the Bible and the Christian faith. Nearly all self-identified Millennial Christians who attend church at least once a month and who describe their religious faith as very important to their lives, do believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life and that it’s the actual or inspired word of God.

So when it comes to Millennials and the Bible, it all depends on us!  Let’s live out the faith so they can relate!”

Shalom,