Research: Younger generation thinks there is something ‘wrong’ with sharing their faith


EEW Magazine // Faith Matters // Barna

If you think the youth of today feel comfortable and confident about witnessing to others about Jesus Christ, you’ll be shocked by new research findings.

According to a Barna Report, “Reviving Evangelism,” nearly half (47%) of Millennials think there is something “wrong” with sharing their faith with someone of a different faith in the hopes of converting them.

While almost all practicing Christians believe that part of their faith means being a witness about Jesus (ranging from 95% to 97% among all generational groups), there is reluctance among the younger generation to do so.

Why is it that they are rejecting the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to “go and make disciples of all nations” according to Matthew 28:16-20?

Well, the research shows they do, in fact, believe that the best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to know Jesus (94% to 97%). Furthermore, Millennials, in particular, feel properly equipped to share their faith with others.

For instance, almost three-quarters say they know how to respond when someone raises questions about faith (73%), and that they are gifted at sharing their faith with other people (73%). This is higher than any other generational group.

Despite this, the hesitance to be an effective witness is real. And here’s why.

Barna says younger Christians are more personally aware of the cultural temperature around spiritual conversations. Among practicing Christians, Millennials report an average of four close friends or family members who practice a faith other than Christianity; most of their parents and grandparents, by comparison, have just one.

For that reason, sharing the Gospel today is made harder than at any time in recent memory by an overall cultural resistance to conversations that highlight people’s differences.

Society today also casts a negative light on proselytization that many older Christians do not fully appreciate.

As Barna found in research published in Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age, three out of five Christian Millennials believe that people today are more likely than in the past to take offense if they share their faith (65%). That’s far higher than among older Christians.

David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, says this study highlights a need for Christians to bolster their confidence in certain convictions—among them, the belief that “evangelizing others is good and worthy of our time, energy and investment.”

He continued, “To start, we must pass on resilient faith to Christian young people (this is also a form of evangelism), planning especially for the pivot point of the high school and college-age years.”

Kinnaman added, “Even after they are committed to sustaining resilient faith, we must persuade younger Christians that evangelism is an essential practice of following Jesus.”

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