Latest Research on "The Apathy Generation" - The Latent Religious Beliefs of Millennials
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The Apathy Generation: The
Latent Religious Beliefs of Millennials
Excerpt from White Paper from Grey Matter Research & Consulting
by Ron Sellers at NRB Research Symposium, 2010
Millennials – adults who are 18 to 29 years
old – are unique from other generations in a variety of ways. For one thing, previous generations
experienced a drop-off in church involvement once teenagers left home, but our
research has shown that Millennials started experiencing that drop-off earlier
than other generations. The
proportion of Millennials who regularly attended worship services in grade
school and before is the same as it is for other generations. But the proportion who attended
regularly during junior high and high school is substantially lower than among
older generations. This has also
led Millennials to feel their adolescent religious involvement has had less
impact on their lives today than other generations feel.
However, this doesn’t mean Millennials fail
to hold orthodox Christian beliefs.
Indeed, we find no substantial difference between Millennials and other
age groups on traditional Christian doctrine such as the sinlessness of Jesus,
the existence of sin, the accuracy of the Bible, or the omnipotence of
God. And although the cliché is
that Millennials are far more liberal than other generations when it comes to
beliefs about sin, that’s not the reality. Our research has shown that in 30 different areas people
might define as "sin,” ranging from having an abortion to getting drunk to
gambling to sex outside of marriage, Millennials are just as likely as older
generations to define most of those areas as sinful.
The difference is not in the beliefs they
hold, but in the role those beliefs play for them. Millennials are about as likely as other generations to hold
traditional Christian beliefs.
What differs is their level of commitment to those beliefs, and their
willingness to act on those beliefs.
Significant proportions of Millennials may believe getting drunk or
having sex before marriage are sinful behaviors, for example, but those
theoretical positions often won’t stop them from engaging in the actual
Millennials are simply less likely to be
aware of what’s going on around them religiously. They’re far less likely than other generations to have any
clue what an evangelical Christian is, to be aware of what’s happening with
religion in the public arena, to know any clergy personally, or to have
relationships with any evangelical Christians.
Millennials are a unique generation in our
country’s recent history, in that their religious beliefs are fairly typical,
yet their knowledge, experience, and willingness to act on or commit seriously
to those beliefs lags other generations.
They are not antagonistic toward religious faith, but often have a
serious apathy or latency related to their faith.
WHITE PAPER FREE
To download the entire white paper, "The Apathy
Generation: The Latent Religious Beliefs
of Millennials," for free CLICK HERE and sign in to
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- Does the
information in Ron's comments or in the results he reveals in the white paper
- As Christian
publishers, is there something we can do to help this generation move from
mental assent to faith in action?
- What specific ways
is your company engaging with Millennial readers?
- What are the areas
we as Christian publishers have overlooked or neglected in reaching this
Since 1996, Grey Matter Research has been
conducting both qualitative and quantitative research for a wide variety of
Christian and secular organizations. The Christian community is an area of
expertise for the company is, with clients ranging from Focus on the Family and
LifeWay to United Methodist Publishing and B&H Publishing. Results from our studies
have been covered in the international media, such as Pravda, USA Today, The Financial Times of London, Associated Press, MSNBC, Los Angeles Times, USA Radio Network, Dallas Morning News, Clergy Journal, Detroit News, and many other outlets throughout the world. More information on the
company, as well as substantial detail on other research we have done that is
available for your use, can be found on our website: www.greymatterresearch.com. Please contact Ron Sellers at 602-684-6294 for additional information.
Ron Sellers is the grey
matter behind Grey Matter Research & Consulting of Phoenix, AZ. Mr. Sellers has twenty-four years of
experience in the marketing research field – much of it working with a variety
of Christian organizations, including Focus on the Family, Thomas Nelson
Publishers, LifeWay, Compassion International, Cokesbury, and the National
Association of Evangelicals. For-profit clients have included General Motors,
Coca-Cola, BMW, Macy’s Department Stores, The Disney Channel, and Dove
Chocolates. Mr. Sellers’ research
work and study findings have been covered by the international media, including
The Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio, Financial
Times of London, Pravda,
Associated Press, USA Today, and
hundreds of local newspapers and broadcast stations. They’ve even been used in Senate Panel testimony and as part
of Jay Leno’s monologue on The Tonight
Show. He is also the author of
over 50 articles in a variety of industry publications.