LifeWay Christian Resources recently surveyed 1,200 men and women, aged 18–29, to get a more in-depth look at their beliefs on faith. The results? Many in this Millennial generation, also known as Generation Y, do not pray, worship or even read the Bible. A staggering 72% consider themselves to be more “spiritual” than “religious”. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources explains that if the younger generations continue to follow this road, “they will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships”, and goes on to say that among the 65% who actually do call themselves Christian, “many are Christian in name only. Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.”
The national survey, which has a margin of error of +/–2.8 percentage points, was conducted last August for adults born between 1980 and 1991, and includes key findings such as:
Half of all Millennial’s believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, the other half are unsure.
Millennial’s are also split evenly on whether they will go to heaven or not. Of those who don’t believe they will go to heaven, 8% feel they will cease to exist after they die and 5% believe they will return in another life form.
67% do not read the Bible.
65% rarely or never attend a worship service.
65% rarely or never pray with others, and almost 40% never pray by themselves.
When it comes to God, Satan, Sin and their Salvation, the study showed these responses to the following doctrinal statements:
“God is a real being, not just a concept.” 46% agree strongly, 26% agree somewhat, 28% disagree somewhat or strongly.
“The devil, or Satan, is not a real being but is just a symbol of evil.” Four out of every 10 Millennial’s agree strongly or somewhat.
“When he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins, like other people.” Half of all Millennial’s agree strongly or somewhat; only 30% strongly disagree.
Although some Millennial’s surveyed have accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and believe they will go to heaven when they die, when asked what was “really important in their life,” 68% never mentioned faith, religion or spirituality. Among the same group, 50% said they do not attend church weekly, 36% rarely or never read the Bible, and only 40% believe it is their responsibility to share the Gospel.
“We have dumbed down what it means to be part of the church so much that it means almost nothing, even to people who already say they are part of the church,” Rainer says. Faced with these latest statistics, Rainer is still encouraged by the 15% who appear to be “deeply committed” Christians by their study, prayer, worship and actions.
The study is a follow up to a 2007 LifeWay study that found 70% of Protestants, aged 18 to 30, who were regular church attendees during high school had quit going by the age of 23. The study went on to show that 34% had never returned to church, even on sporadic occasions, by the age of 30.
Following the release of LifeWay’s 2010 survey, 29-year-old Collin Hansen, author of Young, Restless, Reformed, explains, “I’m not going to say these numbers aren’t true and aren’t grim, but they also drive people like me to build new, passionately Christian dynamic churches.” He goes on to add that, “many in his generation are veering towards the moralistic therapeutic deism ‘God wants you to be happy and do good things’. I, however, would not call that Christianity.”
While it is obvious that Millennial’s hold very diverse beliefs, 70% agree strongly or somewhat, that Christian churches are still relevant in America today. Rainer adds that, “Millennial’s are the most religiously diverse generation in our culture’s history. Unsure of the afterlife and the life of Jesus, Millennial’s present the church with a great opportunity to engage them in conversations dealing with the nature of truth and its authority as God.”
More information can be found on the survey at www.LifeWay.com.