Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released “Religion Among the Millennials” back in February, but I just came across the study this morning. I haven’t had time to read through the full report yet, but there’s a very helpful 1-page overview I’ve embedded below (also available at the link above).
Here a few observations that I’m noticing off the bat:
- More people are “Unaffiliated” and yet the same amount attend a worship service “nearly weekly” as in the 90’s… but more people pray on a daily basis than ever!
- I’m not too concerned about the statistical change in those who say they are “certain God exists.” Yes, the number has gone down since the 90’s, but it’s about the same as in the 80’s. I could easily imagine someone answering this question differently depending on the day or week you ask them, since faith among Millennials is so subjective (rather than objective). If anything, I’m surprised the number of those who are certain God exists is as high as 53%!
- So 53% of people are certain God exists… yet 82% believe in life after death? This tells me that people are desperate for hope. This is pure conjecture, but I imagine someone’s inner dialogue saying this: “Nothing I see or experience today tells me there is a God. There might be, there might not be… but I believe things will somehow get better than this someday, even if it’s after I die.” What a giant inroad to holding out the hope of salvation to a generation in search of hope!
- The Bible has held up pretty consistently despite everything else. I hesitate on this question’s use of the word “literal.” Honestly, I’m not sure how I’d answer this question. I would probably answer “Yes,” because I’d assume that the question isn’t intended to have precise theological accuracy. While I fully believe the Bible is the fully-inspired Word of God, there are many portions of Scripture that are intended to be read metaphorically or symbolically. I’m not pointing this out to nit-pick details over the question, but the option “The Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally, word for word” sounds to me like it could be taken either as I have state above or to insinuate that the Bible as a whole is inspired, but not every part of it is inspired. This is a theological issue, and I’m not so sure it’s right or fair to lump this crowd in with those who say the Bible is “a book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men.” These are two very different groups being lumped in together.
I hope to write a followup post next week after giving time to work through the full report. Until then, what are the ministry implications that flow out of this study that you see?