Preteens ‘on track to abandon biblical Christianity in record numbers,’ study shows

Published 1:53 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

The Baptist Paper / Kentucky Today

America’s preteens are following in the “unfortunate spiritual footsteps of the generations that have preceded them,” says researcher George Barna citing a recent study. The consequence of this trend, he noted, is that 8- to-12-year-olds are “on track to abandon biblical Christianity in record numbers.”

Five key areas were targeted in the study: 

Bible — Barna states bluntly, “America’s children are receiving an inadequate introduction to the Bible.” Only 60% of pre-teens have read part of the Bible, and only 21% view the Bible as the source for determining right and wrong. 

Absolute truth — When it comes to truth, Barna states only one-in-five (21%) of 8- to-12-year-olds “believes that absolute moral truth exists.”

Means to salvation — Only one out of three preteens (36%) believes “that the means to eternal salvation is by confessing their sins and asking Jesus Christ to save them from the consequences of their sin.”

Life purpose — While many preteens believe that they have an important reason for living, “only one-quarter of preteens (27%) identified knowing, loving and serving God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength as their chief purpose in life.”

Success — Only 17% of preteens believe life success is related to living for God as opposed to just being happy or finding financial success.

What’s tragic, according to Barna, is that these findings among preteens track with the attitudes of those who influence them — parents and children’s ministry leaders. In other words, they are living what they are being taught and shown, the study noted.

Beliefs about Scripture

Barna’s study reveals that only 44% of parents and six out of ten children’s pastors believe the Bible is the best guide for knowing right and wrong.

Only about one fourth of parents and one third of children’s pastors reportedly believe absolute truth exists. And only 19% of parents and 42% of children’s pastors believe life success is grounded in faithful obedience to God, the study shows.

“Because of the strong correlation between biblical worldview and genuine Christian discipleship,” Barna said, “we are on the precipice of Christian invisibility in this nation unless we get serious about this crisis and invest heavily in fixing what’s broken.”

‘Raising Spiritual Champions’

Barna addresses these issues and more in his book, “Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul.” He covers a variety of topics including how parents can develop a simple plan to guide their child to a biblical worldview and to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. The book also covers the role churches and godly church leaders can play in that process and how to measure the worldview of children.

Check out the full report here under “Research from 2024.”