In Praise of Elders

By G. Lee Southard, PhD

I attended Easter services this year at a church located in a retirement community. The average age was about 75 and the traditional service was joyful in every respect and included uplifting preaching, music, and worship. It occurred to me that these are the people who have kept the faith and when compared to all other age groups are to be praised. Unfortunately, we do not see the spiritual and patriotic views of the over 65 group reflected in the younger generation, and this may be the fault of the elders in passing the faith on but also the influence of Godless ideologies pervasive in our culture.

We are in a battle in the church and in America for the church and America. This battle must be won, or America is doomed. So, elders, you are not done yet. Your church and your nation need you. We must lead to restore to our churches education and training to avoid the continuing erosion of values. We must directly counter the Godless ideologies and views supported by the media, politicians, the government, and the education system through church programs that embrace God’s plan for our lives and answer the pressing questions that stand between belief and unbelief. Remember you have more clout for change than you realize because church financial support come for you predominately.

Congratulations elders but the battle us not over. You are being called on again. This time for your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Consider the following data that shows by any measurement the descendants of today’s elders fall short in faith and patriotism levels.

The Biblical Worldview is highlighted because it may be the central indicator of failure and the focus of the battle. It is a weakness reflected in all age ranges.

65+ 50-64 30-49 18-29 Gen Z

4-24

Reference
Christians 79 76 65 53 7
Religiously Unaffiliated 12 18 26 38 7
Absolutely believe in God (2014) 70 69 62 51 1
Have Doubts About Their Faith (Christians) 20 19 23 38 6
Church attendance (2018) 24 22 15 11 7
Church Attendance (1972) 33 33 34 21 7
Church Membership (2016-18) 68 57 54 42 7
Church Membership (1998-2000) 77 67 62 n/a 7
Never Attend Church (2018) 27 23 32 35 7
Never Attend Church (1972) 9 6 8 11 7
Biblical Worldview 9 9 5 2 5
Having a Religious Preference 74 66 65 57 7
Proud to be an American (2018) 58 56 42 33 7
Proud to be an American (2013) 61 61 53 55 7
Favorable View of Capitalism (2020) 69 62 58 43 52 7
Favorable View of Socialism (2020) 27 34 39 47 49 7
Favorable View of Socialism (2018) 18 37 43 50 48 7
Favorable View of Marxism 6 9 15 27 30 7
Favorable View of Communism 3 6 12 22 28 7
Favorable View of Abortion (Evangelicals) 16 20 26 38 3
Favorable View of Abortion (All Americans) 54 55 62 74 4
Age Distribution among Atheists 9 14 37 40 2

n/a=not available

1 Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study; Age Distribution, 2014

https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/religious-landscape-study/compare/belief-in-god/by/age-distribution/

2 Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study; Atheists, 2014 https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/religious-landscape-study/religious-family/atheist/

3 Burge R (2022) What’s New in Evangelical Views on Abortion? The Age Gap. Christianity Today. January 21, 2022 https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/january/evangelical-abortion-views-age-gap-younger-pro-life.html

4 Pew Research Center (2022) America’s Abortion Quandary: Americans’ views on whether, and in what circumstances, abortion should be legal May 6, 2022 https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2022/05/06/americans-views-on-whether-and-in-what-circumstances-abortion-should-be-legal/

5 Barna G (2020) American Worldview Inventory Results-Full Release #10: Millenials and Worldview: Millennials Have Radically Different Beliefs About Respect, Faith, and America, September 22, 2020. Cultural Research Center. https://www.arizonachristian.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/CRC_AWVI2020_Release10_Digital_03_20200922.pdf

6 Barna Research (2017) Two Thirds of Christians Face Doubt, July 15, 2017. https://www.barna.com/research/two-thirds-christians-face-doubt/

7 A Summary of original research of these topics can be found I Chapter 10 of The Battle we Must Not Lose, Faithful Life Publishers, 2022. Available at www.toknowwithcertainty.com

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