While the percentage of born-again Christians who practice evangelism has either decreased or remained relatively unchanged among some generations, the percentage of Millennials who are sharing their faith has "significantly" increased in recent years, according to a new report.
The report, published Wednesday by Barna Group, revealed that 65 percent of believing Millennials have presented the Gospel message to at least one person in the last year with the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. That number is up from 2010, when just 56 percent of Millennials said they had done the same.
By comparison, the percentage of Elders (born 1945 and earlier) who evangelize has "remained fairly steady over the past several decades," the study says, and has increased by one point (from 52 to 53 percent) since 2010. Evangelism among Boomers (born 1946 through 1964) has decreased by five points (from 53 to 48 percent) in the last three years, and among Busters (born 1965 through 1983, according to previous reports) it has dropped by 11 points (from 60 to 49 percent).
Millennials have at times been accused of forsaking evangelism to focus on social justice issues, the study says, though the data suggests that is not the case.
"One way to understand this trend is that there are proportionally fewer born-again and evangelical Christians among Millennials than is true among older generations," said Barna Group President David Kinnaman in a statement about the findings. "So part of the explanation may be that those who remain committed to these theological perspectives are all the more motivated to make a 'case' for their faith among their peers. In other words, in the middle of a generation defined by their religious indifference, these Millennial evangelists stand in stark contrast. This trend of younger evangelists should be a source of encouragement to faith leaders."
At the same time, he added, Christian leaders should be concerned about declines in the practice of evangelism among other groups, especially among Busters and Boomers, who make up nearly two-thirds of active Christians today.
The study also highlighted, among other things, the difference between the percentage of born-again Christians who say they have a personal responsibility to share their faith and the percentage that have actually done so in the last year. Overall, 73 percent of born-again believers say they have such a responsibility, but only about half (52 percent) actually shared their faith in the last 12 months.
Barna Group defines "born-again Christians" as those who say they have made "a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today" and who believe they will go to heaven for confessing their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior.
The study, which consists of responses from 2,083 randomly chosen adults, was conducted online and via the telephone in January.