Do you need to pray in order to be God-fearing? The majority of America’s youth think the answer is no.
According to USA Today, a recent survey found that 65% of 18- to 29-year-olds “rarely or never pray with others” and 38% “almost never pray by themselves.” But conversely, 72% of this group consider themselves “spiritual” rather than “religious.” In other words, the next generation of Americans may believe in God, but they will not pursue their faith in traditional ways like going to church or temple.
The study was conducted by LifeWay, a Christian research group, and may be an indication that religious life in America is changing. Thom Rainer, the president of LifeWay, went so far as to speculate this could lead to a crisis at places of worship. “The Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships," he told USA Today.
This study was undoubtedly based on a limited pool (just 1,200 people were surveyed and the vast majority identified as Christian), but its claims are supported by a string of other recent studies. One survey earlier this year by the Pew Research Group found that 25% of Americans under the age of 30 do not associate with any one faith. By comparison, just 10% of Americans 60 and older claim not to have a faith.
For some, this may confirm the idea that America is becoming a less religious country, and in fact, studies do show that the number of atheists in this country is growing. But the point of the LifeWay study is more subtle: Younger Americans do subscribe to a faith of some kind but they express their religiosity in different ways. Perhaps religious leaders out there should take note and start brainstorming ways to stay relevant to the lives of this generation, besides just pressuring kids to go to church or temple.