A new report shows there is a sharp decline in the number of New Zealanders who identify as Christians.

In Faith and Belief in New Zealand, researchers found that only a third of the population believe in Jesus, down from 43% in the 2013 census, reports New Zealand talk radio network, Newstalk ZB.

There’s a deep respect and affection for Jesus and what He stood for. —Chris Clarke, Wilberforce Foundation adviser

Commissioned by Auckland-based Christian organization, Wilberforce Foundation, the study revealed that 20% of participants said they have spiritual beliefs, but don’t identify with any main religion, and 35% said they have no religion or spiritual belief. The rest answered that they identify with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

Wilberforce adviser Chris Clarke said he sees several reasons why the Christian population in New Zealand is dropping. He observed that traditional churches do not appeal to young people. New Zealand youth does not relate to formal churches and they see religion as “not relevant to their lifestyle.”

Clarke said,”Young people respond to authenticity.” He added that the youth likes to express their faith in different ways, noting the rise of the so-called ‘hip-hop churches’ in the US. Well-known musicians and other artists, including Kanye West, have been using music to make worship enjoyable and interesting to young people.

West’s Sunday Service is filled with music. The famous rapper changes the lyrics of hit songs so they could speak about Christian spirituality and God, reports World Religion News.

In addition, Clarke explained that the way young people came to faith differs from how their parents or previous generations came to faith. Despite the changes on how people from different generations came to know Jesus, he believes that regardless of age, “There’s a deep respect and affection for Jesus and what He stood for.”

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