By Rik Charbonneaux
“..the love of most will grow cold,” Matthew 24:12 NIV
Upon reading Jennifer Woodley’s Devotional, “The Light of the World” – 9/24/20, I looked into the generational growth of apathy that has been stripping away the Faith of the Christian majority.
Going back in time from the present, I found a quote from each of the Grahams: Billy and Franklin on the topic of revival, which we certainly need now to properly put apathy off the rails and our service to God back on track.
“The church holds the key to revival. It is within our grasp. The church holds the key to revival. It is within our grasp. Will we rise to the challenge?” Billy Graham, 1964
“No one can solve the spiritual darkness besetting America …only God can.”... Franklin Graham, 9/19/2020
And there are other people of recent note who agree with Franklin Graham when he very recently offered this statement:
“For many in the church today, they’re comfortable and a lot of our pastors don’t want to rock the boat. Many will not speak out on hot-button social issues, insisting such topics are “political” when they are moral matters where churches must be bold… they have ignored such sin and the responsibility to speak against it” .. Franklin Graham, (09/03/2020, CP Church & Ministries Interview).
So how did we fall so far? It follows America’s level of morality through the years,
In looking at the statistics for America during the 60-years that has elapsed between the rather confident statement of Billy Graham and the less than positive statement by his son Franklin, it can be seen that the level of morality in America slipped away at the rate of 1% per year.
Although the church may well have become too excessive in accepting and supporting the wholesale migration into immoral lifestyles in demanding more individual accountability, there is one particular aspect within the church that has an over-arching driver of our nation’s moral decline: our apathy.
Apathy within the church has become the most destructive obstacle to the role of the church to speak out against violence, even more so than atheism
“Apathetic views on spirituality are a greater threat to religious belief than atheism,” .. J. Warner Wallace, Professor of Christian Apologetics, Biola University
If I may put the statement just made into perspective as it pertains to the generational increase in apathy for the USA, the last generation in America credited as having the same level of moral conviction as the previous generation had was the Silent Generation (Born 1925-1945, 51% attended church weekly*) that followed the GI Generation (Born in 1924 or earlier, 51% attended church weekly*).
The Baby Boomers Generation (Born in 1924 or earlier, 38% attended church weekly*) that followed were about 1/3 less religious than both the preceding generations. The national decline in the nation’s level of morality has been about 1% per year for the past 40 years.
And you can see that same rate in the increase in atheism from the Boomers forward: 26% of Baby Boomers, 30% of Generation X (born 1965 – 1980), 30% of millennials (born 1981-1996) and 35% of Generation Z (born 1999 – 2015).
Apathy within the church is cumulative and has increased with every generation since the 1960s, as you can clearly see above, and maybe we are so apathetic that we are not capable nor interested in bringing about a revival.
Also with each generation, almost in lock step with the increase in apathy, there has also been another prime driver to the decrease in the number of Christian families within each of those generations: the lack of a father in the home.
“Across faith practices, the number one factor that would shape why a young person stays in the faith and/or leaves on the reverse, is a warm relationship with the father,” .. Vern Bengtson, Social Psychologist – 2013 Study
With fewer Christian parents in America every year, and with fewer and fewer fathers in the home at the same time, the chances for raising another generation to be more Christian than the previous generation are very small.
Tie that to the effects of apathy within the church and we have a social situation where no one calls out for social accountability, in the home or society.
One revival could turn these two major trends around, but as long as apathy rules the day, the church will continue loosening its grasp on being the key to revival and to a change in the course of our country.
Let us pray to the Lord for a revival in America and throughout the globe.
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer.” 1 Peter 3:12 NIV
* PEW Research, Religious Landscape Study, 2014
Rik Charbonneaux is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God’s creatures.