The major challenge for Christian leaders and soul winners today is the younger generation. A recent survey by Christian pollster, George Barna, found that there was a lot of dialog about spiritual things going on among young people, but after age 13, little change happened. And the conditioning before 13 has changed radically in the last generation.
Other research by Barna paints a disturbing picture. He claims to have found "a new generation more skeptical of and resistant to Christianity than were people of the same age just a decade ago." Among senior pastors, half contend that "ministry is more difficult than ever before because people are increasingly hostile and negative toward Christianity." Although teens are frequently involved in Christian youth groups, worship services and Bible studies, by the time they enter their 20s, many abandon the church.
Partly to blame is a major shift in the general culture. Barna has documented the fact "that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness." This new "moral system" resulted when we allowed the public school system to shift from Bible-based instruction to teaching evolution, self-esteem, human potential, and glorification of decadent celebrities instead of emphasis on heroes of faith and history.
Families also were distracted away from family altars to the convenience of entertainment piped directly into the living room.
Throughout history, when "entertainment" became the focus of a culture, the themes of the shows ramped up the thrill factor by increasingly sinful displays. Remember the Romans who ended up "entertained" by feeding the Christians to the lions?
For soul winners, Barna`s research is especially challenging. Concern for the Great Commission has plummeted: "The drop in personal evangelism among born again Protestant teens is even more striking, dropping from 72% in 1997 to 53% in late 2009." Witnessing and making disciples was the primary charge that Jesus gave us to do when He left.
This does not bode well for the future of the church in America. Failure to carry out God`s mission usually precipitates judgment. God has not been in the habit of prospering nations who are in rebellion, or even indifferent to Him. Already, we see significant disruptions in our economy caused by corruption (sin) in high places.
In addition, infiltration by unbiblical groups such as Islam, secular humanists, evolutionists, sodomites, and socialists are finding little resistance from the Bible believers. Former generations would have targeted people with these beliefs and shown them the Better Way.
Barna`s studies also show "that 16- to 29-year-olds exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations." With a hostile news media, every bit of dirty laundry of the Church is displayed on every TV screen.
Bible-believing churches have failed to distance themselves from the cults of Catholicism, Mormonism, JWs, and the apostate "mainline" churches until we are all seen as "Christian." Now, a generation that has grown up without Bible-based Sunday schools and confident preaching from a trusted Bible, declares: "Christianity in today`s society no longer looks like Jesus," a common theme that Barna found in his research.
When God begins to squeeze a nation, there are two reactions: repentance or rebellion. Each heart has to make a choice. As soul winners, we cannot help the ones who choose stiff-necked rebellion. But we need to make sure we find those who wish to submit to their Creator and love them into the kingdom. When you present someone with a good gospel tract, for him it is decision time.