Barna Research reveals over two-thirds of Christian teens lack evangelism training; 47% feel equipped to discuss faith.
I spent every Wednesday night of my childhood at church. From children’s choir to Girls in Action, where I learned about missionaries, it was a night focused on education and learning to live out my faith. And for a few weeks in my teen years, Wednesday night was when I learned to talk about that faith through an evangelism training program.
In 2021, Barna Research reported more than two-thirds of Christian teens say they haven’t received training to do evangelism.
It’s not a surprising statistic for those who have watched most churches become less programmed and more focused on discipleship at the family level. But if you, like me, lean toward wistful when you remember the trainings and classes once so prevalent, there are signs of hope for the next generation of Christians learning to live out their faith.
Signs of hope
First, the lack of “evangelism training” might be partially explained by a difference in terminology.
While only 19% of teens said they’d been trained in evangelism, 47% said their church “definitely” does a good job equipping them to have conversations about their faith with someone who is not a Christian.
Churches are still promoting evangelism among young believers, albeit with different resources and in less official formats.
It’s also possible our new day offers more opportunities for natural conversations about faith.
Another Barna study released earlier this year found 74% of American adults say they would like to grow spiritually, and 44% are more open to God now than before the pandemic.
In fact, Barna has labeled Gen Z “the open generation” for their willingness to engage on matters of faith.
One week last summer, our 7-year-old went to Vacation Bible School in the morning and art camp in the afternoon.
During a break one day, she had a conversation with a fellow camper about what she’d learned at VBS. He professed a different faith than she did. When they realized they were at an impasse, she resolved to pray for him and, in her words, “went on with my day.”
The on-the-go nature of that encounter reminded me of the apostle Peter’s mandate to always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have.
Yes, my Gen Z-ers are growing up with fewer of the beloved programs of my own childhood. But there are reasons to trust the kids really will be alright, even with less to do on Wednesday nights.