Alex McFarland is a speaker, writer and advocate for Christian apologetics. He serves as director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, a leading Christian college in the United States. He has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout North America and internationally and has preached in more than 1,300 churches. Alex has been featured at some of the nation's biggest Christian events and conferences. Alex is the author of several books, including the best-selling 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity.
He is the co-host of American Family Radio talk network's show "Exploring the Word," and also co-hosts the radio and TV program "Viral Truth." McFarland is the founder of the national apologetics conference, "Truth for a New Generation."
There have always been problems with communication and understanding between generations. Every younger generation that comes along is viewed with skepticism by more elderly generations. But the gap in communication and understanding between today’s millennials and older people is in some ways like nothing we have ever experienced.
While it might be easy to just think they’ll grow out of it, it is important to understand that this younger generation faces serious challenges many of us have not faced; and they been raised in a public education system and media presence that has caused them to become skeptical about life as a whole.
We’re joined by a Christian apologist, researcher and author who has studied millennials extensively: Dr. Alex McFarland. He has written a new book Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home, about the questions and struggles of millennials and how we can reach them with the truth and hope of Jesus Christ.
Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) constitute a group of over 80 million individuals who are technologically astute, ethnically diverse, and culturally and vibrantly engaged. Yet they face high unemployment and massive debt, and they comprise the largest number of religiously unaffiliated individuals in American history.
- Alex’s Thoughts: “Vocation is valuable and meaningful to millennials as well as to Christians in general. When taught and experienced together, millennials can find a work-life mix that connects with faith in powerful ways.”
- “Constant connection drives much of the millennial’s life. Those who seek to reach this generation will prioritize communications that connect through these means, including websites, social media, mobile messaging, email, chat, apps and the use of smart devices.”
Skepticism—Raised in an age of terrorism and the invasion of Internet privacies, millennials are highly skeptical of government, institutions and even churches. Even the lower number of marriages may be partly attributed to the general lack of trust in relationships.
- Alex’s Thoughts: “This value can have both a positive and a negative effect for those seeking to reach millennials. Negatively, increased skepticism has helped contribute to the rise of the ‘nones,’ those who are unaffiliated with any religious worldview. Trust must often slowly be built through caring friendships rather than debate. Millennials must see faith lived out before they will consider living it.”
“Parents must be willing to step up and step out to assume their spiritual roles in the lives of their millennial children. The family is central to the spiritual formation of any child (regardless of the age); but if parents lack the passion and drive to live it and teach it, then the world will ultimately shape our children. Keep the faith, be fervent in prayer, and be consistent in your role-modeling of Christian living. But remember, like so much of life, it is ultimately in God’s hands. Do your best, say your prayers, and then sleep well at night. You’re doing all you can do—and ultimately the prodigal child is answerable to God. I receive at least 2 or 3 stories per week of prodigals who come home (to Christ). The long seasons of rebellion are—frequently—concluded with a rock-solid return to the Lord. Be encouraged.”
Overall, the millennial generation has a lot to offer to the church and to society as a whole. They just need a parent, church leader, or other caring individuals to guide them toward the light of Christ.