The fact that young adults are leaving the church in the West in droves is hardly new news to any of us. (You can download my PDF resource at to some of the reasons why here.) However what a lot of parents, pastors and leaders don’t know is that pop culture provides models and examples to Gen Y’s of how to turn your back on your faith.
Many of the pop culture role models that Gen Y young women have grown up with have moved from Christian teens to secular young women. Their behaviour charts a pattern that many young christian women counsciously or sub consciously mimic on their own journey’s away from faith.
Probably the most classic example is Britney Spears. If you are a 20 year old female Britney has dominated your pop culture consciousness since you were 11. Britney of course began here career espousing her Christian faith and her commitment to maintaining her virginity until marriage. However only a few years later we had the hypersexualized Britney in a wedding dress making out with Madonna, an image that was seen by millions if not billions around the world. Britney seemed to be playing out the classic Christian teen rebellion against her upbringing in front of the world, I remember clearly footage taken at a church service of Britney’s mother leading her down the front at an altar call in a hope to rehabilitate her daughter.
Young women have also grown up with Jessica Simpson, another singer marketed to teens and tweens, who also began espousing her commitment to keeping herself for her husband. Simpson began in Christian music, however just like Britney we only have to fast forward a few years, to find our former Christian recording artists, belting out a Nancy Sinatra cover writhing over a car in a bikini. Simpson now publicly states that she has left behind ‘religion’ and now favours a loose spirituality.
Now we have Preachers kid Katy Perry (see pic above left), who’s song “I kissed a Girl” is topping charts around the world. The song extols the virtue of girls kissing other girls in order to impress boys, and features Katy surrounded by females in various states of underwear and undress. What was Katy’s last album? Yep, you guessed it! A christian gospel album.
When you read interviews with these Gen Y stars the mantra of the day is can be summed up by Rihanna’s album title ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’. Gen Y’s live in a culture in which they are taught to live experientally, they are taught to experiment, sample, and then discard. One month it might be ecstasy, the next month Church, the next month casual sex.
Experiences can be consumed and then dropped in the blink of an eye. In this culture, foundational truth is irrelevant, all that matters is the accumulation of ‘fun’ experiences. Feelings rule over facts. This is not the postmodernism of the academy that so many Christians were worried about in the 90’s, this is the day to day operational postmoderism that Gen Y has grown up with Christian or not.
Strangely things seemed to have reversed now, in the past people went a bit wild in their teens and settled down. Now in our superflat culture it seems that faith is a ‘crazy’ thing that you do in your late teens and early twenties, an almost necessary but childish phase that you experience before you get real and commit to the ‘play ethic’ of hedonism.