What Young People Think About the Bible

Thom Rainer posted this on twitter a few weeks ago…

Just 6% of Millennials believe the Bible is the written word of God…


Just 6%!

I don’t know what kind of poll was taken by Rainer and his organization, but regardles this is alarming.

It’s alarming for me as a young person to think how few of my peers really believe that the words of God are real.
It’s alarming to older generations because it means they haven’t done the best job of teaching the importance of scripture.

Of course, my number one question about this stat is ‘WHY?’

Why is it that so few of us believe in the Word?

I’m not saying I have the entire answer or all of the answer comes down to this, but I do believe that,
we’ve done a bad job of showing the power of scripture.

We haven’t lived it out and displayed its beauty and life changing truth.

You see, I know this about my generation. I know that we want to see to believe. We want to know that what we’re doing matters and is making a difference. We want the truth, but we want it verified.

After all, if it really is the word of the Almighty, it should change lives and countries and generations.


I think we’ve dropped the ball on verifying the truth of scripture.

The love.
The Grace.
The Beauty.
The Power.
The Mercy.

of God… of Christ.

What do you think? Why do only 6% of young people (millennials) believe scripture to be the Word of God? Would love to hear your thoughts. 

[I wrote 3 tips for reaching young people here.]


  1. Gloria

    I think because like with so many other things in this world, generations that came before us “nailed it all down” for us with their expertise, and then demanded that we believe it was just as they told it to us. For most of the American/Western church, we are told that the Bible teaches a pretty singular message, the “gospel” of believe what we tell you to or go to hell. Yeah, Jesus died for our sins, if we believe we are saved, when we are saved, good things happen to us, get in church, tell others, and *poof* it’s just that easy.

    Honestly, those same generations have done it with education and medicine, too, and as it all falls apart, we’re beginning to take note that there’s an aspect of what came before us that is suspect. “They” have lied to us, and so now we don’t trust… is “education” really about producing the cogs in the machine who take their place in the jobs we created for them? Is medicine really about fixing the damage that our crummy diet produces? And this Jesus guy seems really cool, but his religion has produced a narrow-minded, hard headed culture… what’s up with that?

    I don’t blame anyone for their attempts to look up and say “sorry, I think you’ve got it wrong, I’d like to answer those questions for myself” … when many Christian ministries though, are about “let me tell you the answers.”

    1. I understand what you’re saying, Gloria. We definitely can’t demand or brainwash or manipulate people into believing. That never works long term. We have to show them and let them see the reality of it for themselves. Great point. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Great question. I have worked with young people for over 25 years. There are a few things that I find.

    1. They are waiting for those that have gone before to tell them/show them how they made it. I am sad to say that too many older believers are not allowing themselves to be transparent before the younger generations. They present this “holy, never done anything wrong” face and it can be disheartening to others that are seeking to understand how to do this life in God’s way.

    2. They want to find their own way. We become to focused on applying our traditions that we forget our traditions resulted out of our ability to find our own way. We need to allow our young people the freedom to learn how to worship God and we the older generations need to be there to help guide but also realize that God’s Spirit did not stop giving the ability to discern with previous generations.

    3. The older, seasoned believers need to be encouragers of our youth. I find it a pleasure to have been given the opportunity to encourage young people. I tell the truth, but I do not condemn. I am required by God to teach His standard and then I pray those listening follow. I am also aware that they will not follow or care what I say, if I do not first show that I love and care for them.

    Finally, if we are to see God’s Spirit move in this generation we must show forth the anointing power of God. Too many of our young people are dealing with some serious situations. Some are dealing with abuse, homelessness, hopelessness and so much more. If we want their lives to be changed, we must show up in the power of God and allow Him to do the work. Just one humble servants belief.

  3. Hi Jonathan,
    I love learning from your perspective. What a number that is! OY VAY! It makes me ask a couple of questions as a result.

    1. Have we really shared (concisely) the Bible’s miraculous history?

    2. Or, do we use it and assume it’s strength with no back up story?

    Sometimes we have to pull back the veil and expose this history, bit by bit, to help people understand the strength of it’s words. Things like how it was preserved. Scholarly details. Diverse stories for each type of person. Scientific discoveries which showed the existence of these places, these people.

    Maybe we don’t value the words as much because we know anyone can write something down. We do it online all the time.

    What do you think?

    1. I think the historical validity is important for us to show. It’s absolutely there too. Ultimately, though, my generation wants to see how it can change them… That’s my opinion at least. I think if they see change, the historical stuff will help as well and solidify it even more. Thanks for the comment!

  4. This would be discouraging if I didn’t think that times like this are when God seems to like to show up, so to speak, and make things right. I used to be a ‘youth worker’ so I saw what was going on, what I was participating in with teenagers. I think some of what we did was good and some was lacking.

    As far as the good stuff – building relationships and letting them know we cared. That is important and we did that. We tried to teach them to worship, but I think since we didn’t spend time teaching God’s attributes, they didn’t really get past a feel good experience.

    It seemed like it was pizza and games and worship and moralistic teaching that says to do this and not that because it’s better for you and will keep you on good terms with God. There was too much emphasis on our efforts and not enough on the cross and what was accomplished there. It’s not just believing the Bible where we have lost this generation, it’s even knowing who God is and why we believe in Him. Of course, knowing those things starts with knowing the Bible is true. We didn’t have a systematic way to teach doctrine.

    Even in the Sunday morning church services I noticed that I only heard the cross mentioned on Easter Sunday. The other sermons were all about how to have a happy family, a good marriage, manage our finances, succeed at life and on and on. Again, emphasizing our efforts, and not just plain teaching from a portion of scripture, parsing it out for us and telling us who wrote it to whom, what the hearers back then learned from it, how it fits in with the rest of the Bible and how it applies to us today.

    I’m writing all this in past tense because God moved us out of that church to one that does have a system of teaching doctrine and does have sermons that are not topical, but are expository. We have learned a lot and grown spiritually. Sometimes, I’ll think that I wish God would have moved us when our oldest son was about 12 years old, but I have to remind myself that He knows what is best and He does things when the time is right.

  5. Adam

    Hey kids! I want to teach you tons of Old Testament stories about God’s power (I’ll leave out all the “inappropriate” ones). When you grow up, I won’t know how to answer parts of stories you finally realize. Yes, all people died during the flood. They drowned. Mothers clutching their children while they tried to save them. Yes, God said kill all the men, women, children, livestock, and burn everything else of many Jewish enemies. Yes, there is an ending to Moses smashing the Ten Commandments with the Levites slaughtering thousands of the people worshipping the calf. Oh by the way, Jesus loves you, wants you to forgive others, and love your enemies.

    This is what we Millenials were taught. This is why so many don’t believe it’s the word of God. We teach our kids the Bible stories like they’re fables. It’s so much easier to teach those stories than the message of Jesus.


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