Almost half of practicing Christian millennials in the US believe evangelism is wrong, according to Barna Group research.

Data from an Alpha USA-commissioned report, Reviving Evangelism, found that almost all practicing Christians believe being a witness about Jesus is part of their faith and that the best thing that could ever happen to some is for them to know Jesus. 

But it also found that while "Millennials" - defined as aged 20 to 34 - feel equipped to share their faith with others with 73 per cent saying they know how to respond when someone raises questions about their faith and a similar percentage saying they are gifted at sharing their faith, some 47 per cent agreed "at least somewhat" that it was wrong to share one's personal beliefs with someone of a different faith in the hope they will one day share the same faith. Only 27 per cent of "Gen Xers" (aged 35 to 53) held a similar belief only with 19 per cent among "Boomers" (aged 54 to 72) and 20 per cent among "Elders" (aged 72 plus).

Previous Barna research has found that 65 per cent of Christian Millennials believed that people today are more likely than in the past to take offence if they shared their faith, well above the 28 per cent of Boomer Christians who had such a belief. Millennials are also either two or three times more likely than any other generational group to believe that disagreement equates to judgment.

David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, says the study highlights a need for Christians to bolster their confidence in the belief that “evangelising others is good and worthy of our time, energy and investment.”

“To start, we must pass on resilient faith to Christian young people (this is also a form of evangelism), planning especially for the pivot point of the high school and college-age years,” he said in a statement. “The dropout problem is real, and it has a chilling effect on the overall evangelistic environment. It is impossible to exactly trace the impact of lapsed Christians on non-Christians, but sobering to consider the ‘de-evangelistic’ clout of those who leave the faith."

He added that even after becoming committed to "sustaining resilient faith, we must persuade younger Christians that evangelism is an essential practice of following Jesus".

“The data show enormous ambivalence among Millennials, in particular, about the calling to share their faith with others...Even after they are committed to sustaining resilient faith, we must persuade younger Christians that evangelism is an essential practice of following Jesus. The data show enormous ambivalence among Millennials, in particular, about the calling to share their faith with others."

Two nationally representative studies of US adults - one conducted in May last year involving 992 practicing Christians and the other conducted online with 1,001 US adults who do not meet the criteria for practicing Christians including lapsed Christians and non-Christians - were drawn upon in the research.