By Aaron Earls
There are fewer millennial Christians than in previous generations, but those young adults who do follow Christ do so just as faithfully as older believers, according to a Barna study.
Around 8 in 10 Boomers (80%) and elders (83%) self-identify as Christians. That falls to 73% of Generation X and 64% of millennials.
Similar generational trends exist among the number of practicing Christians—which Barna defines as self-identified Christians who attend church every month and say their faith is very important in their lives.
More than 1 in 3 elders (37%) are practicing Christians, compared to 30% of Boomers, 26% of Generation X and 22% of millennials.
Despite their smaller numbers, millennial Christians remain as committed to faith practices and beliefs as older generations. Also, practicing Christians—across generations—are far more likely to engage in faith practices and hold orthodox beliefs.
The smallest gap between all-self-identified Christians and those Barna considers practicing Christians is around weekly prayer, while larger gaps exists on weekly Bible reading and church attendance.
Close to 9 in 10 practicing Christians say they pray at least weekly, including 86% of millennials, 87% of Generation X, 93% of Boomers, and 90% of elders.
Among self-identified Christians, the number falls to around 4 in 5.
Practicing Christians were almost twice as likely as self-identified Christians to have read the Bible and attended church in the past seven days.
Around 7 in 10 practicing Christians say they’ve read the Bible in the last week, including 71% of millennials, 67% of Generation X, 71% of Boomers, and 70% of elders.
Even more—around 4 in 5—were at a church service within the last seven days, including 79% of millennials, 77% of Generation X, 81% of Boomers, and 83% of elders.
Smaller, but still significant gaps exist when comparing the theological beliefs of self-identified and practicing Christians.
More than 7 in 10 self-identified Christians say God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, creator of the universe who rules the world today.
More than 4 in 5 practicing Christians agree, including 84% of millennials, 85% of Generation X, 89% of Boomers, and 91% of elders.
Around 2 in 5 self-identified Christians believe the Bible is totally accurate in all of its teachings.
That number jumps to close to 2 in 3 practicing Christians, including 65% of millennials, 64% of Generation X, 66% of Boomers, and 65% of elders.
Close to 3 in 5 self-identified Christians say they will go to heaven because they confess their sins and accepted Jesus as savior.
Among practicing Christians, it climbs to more than 7 in 10, including 72% of millennials, 70% of Generation X, 75% of Boomers, and 73% of elders.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.