“Born-again Millennials share their faith more than any other generation today.”
Recently, Scott McConnell, vice-president of LifeWay Research, shared the findings of a major study on Christian spirituality. The “Transformational Discipleship” study from LifeWay examined the spiritual habits and attitudes of 1,000 pastors and 4,000 Protestant churchgoers in North America. They included 1,086 Canadian lay people who go to church at least once a month.
Researchers looked at eight attributes that are common to spiritually mature Christians. Among them is “unashamed”—a measurement of how believers feel about sharing their faith. “Being unashamed means being bold in talking about faith and living it out,” Scott stated. “There are two elements to this discipleship attribute: being unashamed of Jesus Christ around nonbelievers and showing transparency among other Christians,” he said. “This transparency is seen when a mature disciple is open to spiritual accountability and willing to share about challenges with other believers.”1
Canadian churchgoers say they are transparent about their faith in public. About half (48 per cent) agree with the statement, “Spiritual matters do not tend to come up as a normal part of my daily conversations with other Christians.” One-third (31 per cent) disagree.
Only three in 10 agree with the statement, “Many people who know me are not aware I am a Christian.” More than half (51 per cent) disagree. More than half also say they want feedback about their faith from other churchgoers. Fifty-four per cent agree with the statement, “I expect my Christian friends to challenge me if I make unwise choices.” According to the survey, faith isn’t a normal part of day-to-day conversations for many churchgoers.
Less than half say they share their doubts and struggles with other Christians. Forty-four percent agree with the statement, “I openly share about difficulties I am experiencing when I talk with Christian friends.” One in three (33 per cent) disagree.
“It is easy for Christians to put their ‘church’ face on at church and pretend everything is fine,” said McConnell. He adds, “By doing so, however, churchgoers miss out on the chance to grow their faith with the help of other believers.” He also added that reading the Bible more often, being mentored one-on-one by a more spiritually mature Christian, and having a habit of confessing sins to God tend to predict higher scores in the “Unashamed” category.2
Since that dialogue, four Scripture passages have gripped me:
Romans 1:16 (Holman Christian Standard Bible): “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation ...”
The gospel is God’s power for salvation; it is the gospel, pure and simple, that our nation needs. At Mission Canada we strongly desire our nation to be transformed by the gospel. This means that discipling the next generation of Canadians is non-negotiable if we are going to fulfil the Great Commission.
Recently, in a gathering of multiple leaders, a study of evangelism and millennials was shared. Among Protestant churchgoers who believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, it was found that most feel a responsibility to share the gospel, and that most even feel comfortable doing so—but very few actually do it. LifeWay Research surveyed church attending Protestants in the Canada and the United States, asking the following question: “In the past six months, have you shared with someone how to become a Christian?” They found that 85 per cent of all believers aged 18 to 29 agree that they have a responsibility to share the gospel with unbelievers, and that 69 per cent of those same people feel comfortable sharing their faith. However, only 25 per cent of them look for ways to share the gospel, and only 27 per cent of them intentionally build friendships with unbelievers in order to do so. This leads me to the second verse that has been gripping my heart in recent days …
2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT): “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”
There was an interesting twist to this LifeWay study—a second encouraging survey by Barna Research.3 The Barna Group surveyed born-again American Christians: “During the past 12 months, I explained my religious beliefs to someone who had different beliefs in hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour.” At least 52 per cent agreed. It turns out that Millennials (adults aged 18 to 34) are the only generation among whom evangelism is significantly on the rise. Their faith-sharing practices have escalated from 56 per cent in 2010 to 65 per cent in 2013. Not only that, but born-again Millennials share their faith more than any other generation today. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) have presented the gospel to another person within the past year, in contrast to the national average of about half (52 per cent) of born-again Christians.
Considering these statistics and our PAOC focus on Every Day Faith, in 2016 Mission Canada is bringing together 50 PAOC high school age students from across the nation who will take part in a 12-week online mentorship program. These students will be recommended by their church leadership because of their passion for evangelism—students who are unashamed to share the love of Jesus every day. Why is this important and necessary? Allow me to share the third passage of Scripture that is tugging at my heart.
In 2 Timothy 1:6 (NASB), Paul challenged his young son Timothy in the faith: “I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you ...”
We believe that this mentorship opportunity will be a life-changing experience for the first 50 high school age students, and that this cohort will be the first of many more to come. We believe it will have a significant impact on our Fellowship, our nation, and the world in the days to come. How we measure our spiritual vitality is more than just counting hours spent in Bible reading, prayer and church attendance. We must be about sharing the good news unashamedly with those we come into contact with every day.
We encourage you to visit novus.paoc.org for more information. Questions? Email email@example.com.
Finally, here is the fourth verse that is challenging my spirit these days: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14, NASB).
Allow me to leave this final challenge with you: with whom have you shared your faith this week?
Brian Egert is the director of Mission Canada and assistant to the general superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.