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Is the Most Digitally Connected Generation Disconnecting from Their Faith?

One million young people are leaving Christianity each year.

Is the Most Digitally Connected Generation Disconnecting from Their Faith?

One million young people are leaving Christianity each year.

Sponsored article by TENx10, an initiative focused on helping faith matter more to the next generation.

Recent data paints a picture of a digitally connected yet lonely Gen Z. With an average of nine hours spent on their phones and an attention span of eight seconds, nearly half of U.S. teens claim almost constant internet use.

Does this mean that digital natives, or those born during the age of digital technology, are inherently incompatible with the values and community offered by traditional churches–or is there a better way to bridge the gap and authentically connect with these younger generations?

Cedar Sinai's research reveals that despite constant online connectivity, Gen Z reports higher loneliness than older adults. Other studies highlight Gen Z’s yearning for authenticity, meaning, and in-person experiences. So, if community and shared life are core tenets of the church, why does the generation with information at their fingertips feel so disconnected?

The rapid evolution of communication plays a role. From letters to texts to social media, the desire for connection remains, but the pathways diverge. This "digital-analog divide" might leave Gen Z feeling unwelcome in non-digital spaces, potentially pushing them towards communities beyond church walls.

The Pinetops Foundation report paints a sobering picture: the American church loses roughly 1 million young people annually, with projections estimating 35 million disaffiliating by 2050. We are at a critical point in time. The next 30 years will offer the largest mission opportunity in the history of the American church.

While factors like the rise of secularism and the decline of religious authority contribute to this massive church drift, the lack of meaningful engagement deserves deeper examination. A study from Pew Research found that Gen Z disaffiliation isn't driven by faith crises or rejection of teachings. Instead, young people cite feeling disconnected from the church as an institution, choosing instead to find community online, at home, or in smaller groups. This begs the question: what message is the church sending that makes Gen Z feel they don't belong?

Despite evolving communication styles, the inherent need for community–with God and each other–remains. In their latest research, Barna Group and Impact 360 outline Gen Z's stated priorities: technology, identity, worldview, family, security, and diversity, which are not so dissimilar from past generations. But Gen Z prefers to tackle these concerns through smaller, more intimate spaces, and their message to faith communities is clear: share the gospel, teach the fundamentals, and model Christ's life authentically.

Bridging the Gap

TENx10 aims to help churches take up this challenge by partnering with senior leaders to address the misalignment. Recognizing the online world as a bridge to a deeper connection within the church, they encourage:

TENx10 believes the church needs Gen Z, and Gen Z needs the church. By cultivating deep intentionality, we can bridge the digital divide and build a vibrant community of faith.

To learn more about their efforts to make faith matter more to the next generation, visit tenx10.org.