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Researcher Reveals the Bright Hope Emerging in the Darkness of a Secularized, Lost Culture

Share Tweet By Billy Hallowell Editor
June 5, 2024

After the release of survey data giving Christians a good reason for hope when it comes to the Gospels impact on young people, the researcher behind the data is offering some helpful context.

Dr. John Plake, chief program officer at the American Bible Society, told CBN News 21% of Generation Z adults said in his organization’s annual “State of the Bible” survey that “they’ve actually increased their use of the Bible within the last year.”

This is notable considering the ongoing discussion about generational replacement and younger Americans being less faithful than previous generations.

While many of the indicators are negative, Plake said there are some bright spots regarding Gen Z, particularly on the Bible engagement front.

“They’re leaning into the Bible,” Plake said. “They’re really trying to engage in their faith and they are kind of a bright hope for us as a young generation of American adults.”

Listen to Plake explain:

Plake, a former university campus pastor and professor who came out of Christian higher education, said he wasn’t surprised by the results in the 14th annual State of the Bible Report 2024.

In fact, he believes there are some misconceptions surrounding younger Americans. While some Boomers might see them as being “against the Bible” or Jesus, the data shows “more openness and more curiosity.”

“They aren’t the ‘turned off, tuned out generation’ of the 60s,” Plake said. “They’re more ‘leaning in.’ They recognize that they are spiritual, that they have a purpose and they really want to discover what that purpose is, so that’s the good news.”

Of course, this positive news doesn’t come without some difficulty and struggle, with Plake also detailing what he sees as the “challenging news for the church.”

When it comes to Gen Z, he said “they don’t give what we call epistemic privilege to the Bible.”

This basically means evangelists and apologists can’t assume a bias in favor of biblical truth; instead, its laurels have to be explained and properly synthesized for Gen Zers to comprehend.

“There’s no advantage that you have to come to them with what the Bible says versus what some other form of … Scripture or religious tradition says,” Plake said. “What they want to know is, ‘Can the Bible help me? Does God care about me?’ And, if you can answer their questions from a biblical perspective, they’re interested.”

The researcher said Gen Z adults truly care about “authentic engagement,” which provides a powerful opening for Christians who have real-life stories of God-ordained transformation.

“What the next generation really cares about is authentic engagement from people who really have a story to tell,” Plake said. “So, that’s really hopeful. If you’re a person of faith who has been deeply touched by God and Scripture, then you have a story to tell and there are a lot of young people in America who’d love to hear your story.”

This naturally opens the door to the Bible, as Scripture is likewise filled with important stories that have the power to bring people along for a literary ride one that has the sway and ability to change their lives for all eternity.

“It’s an honest story of regular people in relationship with God, and sometimes running far from him,” Plake said. “And so it’s a really compelling way to engage people in an ancient message and allow them to come to know God through it.”

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