Narratives of decline surround American evangelicalism and American religion more broadly. Within these narratives, a special sort of skepticism is reserved for twentysomethings. Much has been said about their flight from the pews, the rise of the “nones,” and the lack of institutional commitment among millennials. While we’ve been wringing our hands about the millennial generation, we must acknowledge that Generation Z snuck up on us. They are increasingly filling the ranks of the twentysomething cohort.
As a Gen Xer, I remember a similar fretting for my generation of youth. We were the “latchkey kids”: A lack of supervision inevitably turned us into the sort of rebellious teens depicted in films like The Breakfast Club.
Given the relative novelty of emerging adulthood as a developmental stage, it’s easy to come down hard on twentysomethings. This new phase in the American experience, marked by delays in attaining traditional markers of adulthood (marriage, home ownership, full-time employment, and so on), provides fodder for sweeping critiques of twentysomethings, including their faith.