Why Generation Z is less Christian than ever — and why that’s good news

by Jonathan Morrow

Gen Z—the generation following the millennials—is the least Christian generation to date, according to a new Barna study – 34 percent of Gen Z’s religious affiliation is either atheist, agnostic or none. In fact, teens 13-18 years old are twice as likely as adults to say they are atheist. And just three in five 13- to 18-year-olds say they are some kind of Christian (59 percent).

As Christian parents, pastors, educators, and leaders, we want what’s best for our kids. We want to see them grow up and follow Jesus for a lifetime. Yet, we all know young people who have become disillusioned or drifted away from the faith. It doesn’t have to be this way: no student should “outgrow” their faith.

As my friend David Kinnaman, the president of the Barna Group, put it while we were working on this Gen Z study together, “Is it possible that many churches are preparing young Christians to face a world that no longer exists?” Based on my experience working with students, the answer to this question is yes.

Many Christian teens are simply unprepared for the world that is waiting for them. With the best of intentions, we bubble wrap our kids and create Disney World–like environments for them in our churches, and then wonder why they have no resilience in faith or life. Students are entertained but not prepared. They’ve had a lot of fun but are not ready to lead. When the pressure to conform is turned up, Christian teenagers tend to wilt if they do not have the confidence that only comes from knowing why they believe what they believe. As one teenager told me…


Why Generation Z is less Christian than ever — and why that’s good news