New research from California-based Barna Group reveals that almost half of practicing Christians in the US think that evangelism is wrong.
The report, Reviving Evangelism, commissioned by Alpha USA, studied the experiences of Americans regarding their faith and their opinions about faith-sharing. One of the major findings of the research is that Christian Millennials, those born between 1984 and 1998, have mixed feelings about evangelization. While the majority of them feel ready to share their faith with other people (73%), nearly half of them (47%) “agree at least somewhat that it is wrong to share one’s personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in hopes that they will one day share the same faith.”
As much as ever, evangelism isn’t just about saving the unsaved, but reminding ourselves that this stuff matters, that the Bible is trustworthy and that Jesus changes everything. —David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group
Americans from different generations participated in the research: Millennials, Gen X-ers, Boomers, and Elders.
Among the Christian respondents across all generations, 95% to 97% of them said they believe that part of their faith is being a witness about Jesus. The majority, or 94% to 97%, said sharing their faith with someone who doesn’t know Jesus is the best thing that could ever happen.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of the Millennials think that they are equipped to share their faith with other people. This figure is the highest percentage compared to the older generations, Gen X (66%), Boomers (59%) and Elders (56%).
However, despite the high level of confidence in one’s faith and sharing it with others, it’s unclear why 43% of the Millennials regard evangelization as wrong.
“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,” said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group.
Kinnaman added that young Christians must be taught that evangelism is part of following Jesus.
“Cultivating deep, steady, resilient Christian conviction is difficult in a world of ‘you do you’ and ‘don’t criticize anyone’s life choices’ and emotivism, the feelings-first priority that our culture makes a way of life,” he said. “As much as ever, evangelism isn’t just about saving the unsaved, but reminding ourselves that this stuff matters, that the Bible is trustworthy and that Jesus changes everything.”
The study was conducted in May 2018, with 992 practicing Christians and 1,001 American adults who do not meet the criteria for “practicing Christians,” including lapsed Christians and non-Christians.