A New Generation's Perspective on Influence
In August of 2009 Lifeway Research conducted a study of those born between 1980-1991. Those individuals are referred to as "Millennials," and that research is the basis for an upcoming book by Thom Rainer and his son Jess Rainer titled, The Millennials: Connecting to America's Largest Generation.
Through that study we gain some insight into how this generation perceives influences in their lives. For example, when looking for information or advice about two-thirds of American "Millennials" prefer to talk with a variety of people who have personal experience rather than one individual considered to be an "expert."
According to the study it turns out that the greatest influences in the lives of Millennials are parents, friends and extended family. "The vast majority (88 percent) say their parent or parents remain a positive influence on their lives, including 51 percent who call them a strongly positive influence."
65 percent of Millennials identify themselves as Christian, 14 percent as atheist or agnostic, 14 percent list no religious preference, and 8 percent claim other religions. Professing Christians, consistent church attenders, and those committed to some form of religion are more likely than others to say their parents are still a strong and positive influence.
- Thirty-eight percent of Millennials say their religious beliefs have no influence on their lives.
- Thirty-two percent indicate their beliefs have a strongly positive influence.
- Fifty percent say a church or house of worship has no influence on their lives. Twenty-two percent indicate a church has a strongly positive influence.
- 18 percent of all Millennials indicate they get a lot of guidance or advice from sacred texts such as the Bible, Torah or Koran, while another 24 percent get some. The most common answer (37 percent) is none at all.
Head over to Lifeway to read more about the study, and then come back here to talk through some of it.
What might all this mean for the local church? Does this change in the way a new generation seeks advice and sees influence make an even greater argument for small groups and missional communities in the church? Talk it out in the comments.