Millennials Blending Faith & Technology
Technology has infiltrated every area of Millennial life, and the realm of faith is no exception. According to Barna research, the most common way Millennials are blending their faith and technology is through digital reading of Scripture. It’s an escalating trend, considering there are just as many YouVersion (the free Bible phone app) downloads as there are Instagram downloads. And BibleGateway.com has become one of the top Christian websites today.
Seven out of 10 of practicing Christian Millennials (70%) read Scripture on a screen. One-third of all Millennials says they read sacred Scripture on a phone or online, demonstrating how broadly the digital trends are shaping this generation. Millennials are also heavy users of online videos pertaining to faith—54% of practicing Christian Millennials and 31% of all Millennials engage in this activity.
About one-third of Millennials are using online search to scope out a church, temple or synagogue online. This increases to over half (56%) of practicing Christian Millennials who do the same. It may be that for Millennials, checking out a faith community online, from a safe distance, is a prerequisite for the commitment of showing up in person.
The latest Barna research shows that Millennials are giving, yet technology is significantly changing how they give. In fact, Millennial generosity, for the most part, has gone paperless.
Perhaps opting for the quick, easy and trackable, just more than one in 10 Millennials say they donate to a church or faith organization online at least once a month. The rate is four times higher among practicing Christian Millennials (39%). These levels are lower than average donors of other generations, but nevertheless demonstrate millions of Millennials are active givers. And technology is powering much of their charitable engagement.
Another way to spark Millennial giving is to reach them where they are, which in many cases, is on their mobile phones. Nearly one out of every 10 of all Millennials say they text to donate at least once a month, which doubles among practicing Christian Millennials to two out of 10.
IMPLICATIONS OF RESEARCH
David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group and author of two books on Millennials, points out the implications of this research: “Millennials live in an era of radical transparency, powered by social and digital tools. Any leader or organization who wants to engage Millennials must learn this—whether from the pulpit or the front of the classroom, whether fundraising or marketing. If Millennials are doing their own research on what happens from the stage, leaders need to take care not to make false promises or exaggerations in their messages. Millennials, who already exhibit institutional distrust, have heightened sensitivity for artificiality and false promotion.
“Instead, Millennials desire relevant, two-way conversations on a wide-range of topics. In many ways, these conversations are already happening online. The digital world simply makes this kind of interaction and transparency a non-negotiable among the youngest generations.
“For church leaders, the data point to lots of opportunities to engage Millennials spiritually online. This stems from the convergence of two trends: Millennials leaving the Church, and Millennials taking their faith discussions and explorations online. One of the most positive trends among Millennials is that they want faith that is holistically integrated into all areas of life—including their technology. How the Church acknowledges and engages the digital domain—and teaches faithfulness in real-life to young adults as well—will determine much about its long-term effectiveness among Millennials.”
To learn more about Millennials, check out the Audience SCAN report available on the Research Store at ad-ology.com.[Source: Research conducted by the Barna Group. 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2013.]