Poll Finds Millennial Christians Have More Non-Christian Friends

A recent study about Christians sharing their faith with others found that millennials tend to have more non-Christian friends than older groups.

The point about how many non-Christian friends millennials have was sort of a sidebar of a Barna study.

But in a way, it doesn’t surprise me.

The study, titled “Revising Evangelism,” looks at the faith-sharing experiences and expectations of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Progressive Christian Keith Giles pointed out the finding of which group tends to claim more non-Christian friends.

The study found that Millennials reported an average of four close friends or family members who practice some faith other than Christianity. The same study found that most of those Millennials’ parents and grandparents reported having an average of only one.

There may be a Bible verse to blame for this. Over the years, I’ve heard it quoted by Christians who genuinely felt they were right to not associate with people of different faiths.

The verse is in 1 Corinthians 5. Specifically, the passage was written with respect to believers who are unrepentantly committing sin.

Consider this passage of verses 9-13:

When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”

The passage clearly refers to believers who are living in sin and refuse to repent.

But I’ve heard fellow Christians apply the concept of “not breaking bread” or “removing the evil person from among” them when the person in question isn’t necessarily a sinning believer. There have been times when I’ve heard some of the holier-than-thou types make immediate judgment calls about someone’s level of belief without bothering to have a conversation with them at all.

The study found that older Christians are more likely to share their faith with non-believing friends. But ironically, while more Millennials say they are “gifted” at sharing their faith than older Christians, more Millennials also say they are less likely to do so.

While the study seems to focus on a cultural shift that condemns proselytization, I find the portion about which groups claim to have more non-Christian friends to be important.

The Great Commission tells us that we are to spread the teachings of Jesus Christ.

If the groups of Christians who claim to be most likely to share their faith tend to have the fewest non-Christian friends, how are they sharing that faith?

If they’re not close with people of other beliefs, how are they witnessing? How are they living an example?

The most effective way of spreading Christianity likely isn’t needling non-believers to go to church. It’s more likely living the life they believe Christ wants them to live so those non-believers can see for themselves why it’s better. (At least, I’d think most believers would agree that living a life for Christ would be better than not doing so.)

If older Evangelicals aren’t trying to make connections with those outside their faith, how can they believe they’re truly making that statement?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.