New research from Barna finds that almost half of practicing, born-again Millennial Christians are uncomfortable with the idea of proselyting those who practice other faiths.
They support evangelism in principle: more than 90% of these young believers agree with these two statements:
“Part of my faith means being a witness about Jesus”
“The best thing that could ever happen to someone is for them to come to know Jesus.”
However, they have qualms about sharing their faith with individuals of another faith. From the report:
Almost half of Millennials (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. This is compared to a little over one-quarter of Gen X (27%), and one in five Boomers (19%) and Elders (20%).
Forty percent of Millennials also agree with this statement:
“If someone disagrees with you, it means that they’re judging you.”
I interpret these findings as further evidence of the feminization of society and Christianity.
Women are much more concerned than men with maintaining peace and harmony. They are more likely to shrink back from open confrontation and things that are considered “divisive.” Evangelism is by its very nature divisive. The evangelist must point out something lacking in another person’s life. Even when this is done with grace it can upset the one being evangelized (What do you mean I’m going to hell?) Evangelism can be interpreted as moral superiority (my faith is the right one, yours isn’t), which is anathema to modern relativism.
The report concludes:
Society today also casts a negative light on proselytization that many older Christians do not fully appreciate. As Barna found in research published in Spiritual Conversations in the Digital Age, three out of five Christian Millennials believe that people today are more likely than in the past to take offense if they share their faith (65%)—that’s far higher than among Boomer Christians (28%). Millennials are also either two (Gen X) or three times more likely (Boomers and Elders) than any other generational group to believe that disagreement means judgment.
An increasing number of young Christians love the idea of evangelism – they just don’t want to practice it themselves. Better to stay silent rather than risk confrontation or disagreement.