Discipleship – the key to reversing biblical illiteracy rates among youth

Discipleship – the key to reversing biblical illiteracy rates among youth

Discipleship – the key to reversing biblical illiteracy rates among youth

Declining literacy rates aren't only a problem in U.S. classrooms. They're a problem in Sunday school classrooms too, according to an expert on biblical worldview.

Average test scores in reading and math dropped by four and nine points respectively, according to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress last year. The scores were the lowest in decades. Similarly, biblical illiteracy is a growing problem for Christians, a decades-long trend, according to research by the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council.

David Closson, director of FRC's Center for Biblical Worldview, said on Washington Watch Friday that the impact of the downward trend in biblical literacy is showing up in American culture.

"Previous adult generations have really dropped the ball when it comes to discipleship and catechizing their children. We've seen Christianity lose the respectability that it once had, the influence that it once had," Closson told show host Jody Hice.

FRC data show that only 4% of U.S. citizens say they have a biblical worldview. This shows up in growing trends toward the rejection of any type of absolute moral truth, Closson explained. He cited three statistics:

  • Abortion: 60% of Baby Boomers have a broad acceptance of abortion. When the question is posed to Millennials and members of Generation Z, the number surpasses 70%.
  • Consensual sex among unmarried adults: 60% of Baby Boomers have no problem with it, but the number rises past 70% for Millennials and Gen Z.
  • Personal holdings: When asked Is it okay to accept a loan from a wealthy family member and not pay it back? 25% of Baby Boomers said that's okay, compared to 42% of Millennials and 50% of Gen Z.

"The shift in biblical worldview is affecting our morality, and it's ultimately showing up in how we look at policy and politics as well," Closson continued. "There is a new morality that is guiding the American public. Increasingly, the newest adult generation – Gen Z – holds to beliefs and attitudes that are more out of step with scripture than even the previous generations."

Reverse the trend by changing the mindset

These numbers are the result of a societal belief that "whatever happens around me is okay as long as it doesn't affect me." At the end of World War II, only 20-29% believed it was morally acceptable to engage in behavior so long as it didn't harm someone else. Now, 55% of Millennials and 66% of Gen Z members embrace that idea.

Closson, David (FRC) Closson

Closson emphasized the obvious: "It shows that there's no understanding of absolute moral truth. There's no understanding that there really is an objective right and an objective wrong." The key to reversing those numbers, he argued, is discipleship of youngsters in churches.

While the Holy Spirit can intercede at any time, data show a child's worldview begins to form between 15 and 18 months and is mostly set by age 13. That said, Closson offered this challenge to adult believers: If they want to assist in the workload of the Holy Spirit, they need to be ready to volunteer.

"If you have 10-, 11-, 12- or 13-year-olds at home or church, these are the prime years to invest. If you work with your church's children's ministry or youth ministry, sometimes it seems like these are the parts of our churches [to which] we give the least amount of resources.

"That's the wrong paradigm," Closson concluded.