Christian young people are not spiritually thriving. That is the conclusion by Stephen Cable in his book, Cultural Captives: The Beliefs and Behavior of American Young Adults. Stephen Cable serves as Senior Vice-President of Probe Ministries.
His book not only analyzes the survey Probe Ministries did with the Barna Group of emerging adults but also analyzes all of the other major surveys (National Study of Youth and Religion, Baylor Religion Survey, and General Social Survey). He discovered that even though commentators sometimes cite these other surveys to prove that young people are doing well, all of the surveys are actually quite consistent. When you dig deeper into the data, you find they all paint a bleak picture.
The percentage of people generally who check “none of the above” for religious preference is increasing. That is especially true of young people. In fact, the percentage of emerging adults who do not claim any affiliation with Christianity rose from 20% in 1990 to over 43% of the population today.
Stephen Cable found that only 14 percent of born-again, emerging adults combine a biblical worldview with biblical practices, such as reading the Bible or attending church. He also found that less than 2 percent of born-again, emerging adults apply a biblical worldview to life choices. In other words, only this small percentage has biblical beliefs on topics ranging from abortion to sex outside marriage to science and faith.
This is a major reason why Probe Ministries has developed an integrated strategy known as Periscope aimed at reversing these trends. The learning experience involves an entire church congregation over a seven-week period and includes sermons, videos, original music, and additional material for individuals and small groups.
Stephen Cable’s book is a wake up call to the church. We need to reverse these ominous trends and do it quickly before the trends become even worse.