Generation Next: What You Need to Know About Today’s Youth. George Barna. Regal Books, 1995.
Dealing with people of other generations can be challenging, given that they have different values and ideals in living life. This concern is especially magnified for the youth ministers of most church organizations. George Barna provides an answer in his book “Generation Next”, where he presents results and commentary of his surveys of youth, aged 13-18 (as of December 1994). In doing this he seeks to explain this generation to the older generations that are working in the churches today.
Barna begins by pointing out the generations are different, then relays the concerns and crises of the youth. He then describes the character of teens, how they choose to spend their time outside of schooling, and their typical family environment. The author then describes spiritual matters of teens like their views of Christianity, the after-life, the church, the Bible, and how they believe their faith should translate into behavior. Barna then describes in detail how teens tend to live out their faith. The author then makes the observation that teens (and adults!) are rather spiritually anemic by Biblical terms, noting the lack of difference in belief between those who claim Christianity and those who don’t. Finally, Barna summarizes what he found into a number of “Rules”, and then provides advice to parents and others who may work with teenagers of this group.
George Barna provides a wonderful view into the often scary views that teenagers have adopted regarding Christianity. His survey research is very thorough. His comments on the remarkable things he found, such as the lack of belief in absolute truth coupled with a belief in the Bible as an absolute source of truth, is very excellent and on point.
However, at many points, he often takes an incredibly conciliatory tone towards some of the scary things he observed. As a result, his desire to identify with the target audience of his surveys and embrace the wrong aspects of their thinking tends to play more into the desire of his readers to embrace the world and its thoughts (as his subjects do) instead of return to true Biblical Christianity.
Overall, this book is an interesting and valuable view into the faith that is expressed in most of the churches today, despite his intention to describe the next generation. Given my eight years of experience blogging about the state of Christianity today, many of these points have only gotten worse since 1995. Unfortunately, Barna doesn’t do enough in this book to draw those contrasts that he discovered through his surveys with actual Scriptural practice.
Rating: 7 out of 10.
Book Cover Image Source: Amazon