“A superficial reading of their spirituality might not suggest severe deficiencies or unsettling faith issues to address,” said Barna. “However, one of the most important insights from the study is that millennials do not seem to have a problem with Jesus Christ as much as they have problems with Christian churches, Christian individuals, and some biblical principles that directly conflict with popular culture perspectives. Even the Bible fares relatively well with the group—although companion research suggests that they are ill-acquainted with its contents.”
Furthermore, majorities of respondents revealed beliefs inconsistent with a Christian worldview. Seventy-four percent said they believe that all religious faiths have equal value. Fifty-six percent said that they do not believe in moral absolutes, and 63 percent said that they look to “feelings, experiences, or input from family and friends” as their “most trusted source of moral guidance.”
When asked about their views on God, only 35 percent said that they see God as an “all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect and just creator of the universe.” The next most common response (25 percent) was that “a higher power may exist, but nobody really knows for certain.”
Other Notable Millennial Views
“One of the most significant findings of this research,” said Barna, is “the apparent need for better mental and emotional health among young adults.” Fifty-four percent of millennials feel “anxious, depressed, or unsafe,” the report found. Barna believes that there is a connection between poor mental health and the challenges millennials face in their relationships. Sixty-four percent said that within the past month they had “avoided interacting with someone because it was likely to produce conflict.”
Regarding politics, millennials are more progressive than previous generations. Forty percent identify as liberal or progressive compared to 29 percent who identify as conservative. Millennials are twice as likely to identify as Democrats (40 percent) than they are as Republicans (21 percent). Another notable finding was that 30 percent of millennials identify as LGBTQ. That number increases to 39 percent in people aged 18 to 24.
“Believers with good intentions have thus far struggled to effectively bring biblical principles into public conversation and mainstream communications,” said Barna in a lengthy afterward to the report. “To do so we may need to consider new ways, new language, and new ambassadors for this process. But we must also encourage our pastors to preach apologetically—that is, exegeting God’s word consistently and faithfully for His people.”
Barna exhorted, not just pastors, but all believers to take the report’s findings to heart:
Research that does not lead to corrective action is just an exercise in gathering information for its own sake. Who has time for that? This study represents a resource that is rich with insights into the present and future of Millennials—our emerging parents, intellectuals, powerbrokers, voters, consumers, professionals, church leaders, and more. For us to fail to strategically respond would be to squander an opportunity to serve God and His people.