For Gen Z teens, letting their actions speak louder than words is an important part of evangelism

Despite being the most digital-savvy generation, many Gen Z teens do not see sharing digital or online content as a form of evangelism, according to the Barna study.(Photo: Unsplash/Paul Hanaoka)

Half of Gen Z teens in the US feel that "letting your actions speak rather than using words to explain your faith" is an act of evangelism, according to research by Barna.

The same proportion also see "inviting someone to attend a church service with you" as a way of evangelizing others.

A similar percentage regard "telling your personal story about how you came to be a Christian," and about the "benefits" and "changes" experienced by following Jesus in the same way (48% each). 

But they are more coy when it comes to sharing their faith digitally, despite being the first generation to grow up with smartphones and social media, with only 28% agreeing that sharing digital or online content with someone is a form of evangelism. 

READ MORE: Christian migrants from South America, Asia and Africa are boosting evangelism in Europe - report

When asked what they thought would generate a positive response, they were most likely to choose "letting your actions speak rather than using words to explain your faith to someone" (83%). 

Gen Z teens also appear to be comfortable overall with sharing their faith with someone of a different religious identity, with just over half (52%) saying they felt "calm" when sharing their faith with others, and over a third (37%) feeling "peaceful". 

A far smaller proportion (27%) said they felt "awkward".

Perhaps offering a clue into why they feel so positive about sharing their faith, the vast majority (81%) of Gen Z teens refuted the idea that "if someone disagrees with you, it means they're judging you."

Commenting on the findings, Barna said: "In general, however, Gen Z rarely associates negative emotions with discussions across faith lines.

"This may be because Gen Z is not worried about feeling judged when it comes to conversations on faith. Unlike the Millennials who came before them, these teens accept that not always seeing eye to eye is a fact of life."

It added, "Overall, Gen Z come and go from faith-sharing conversations without friction or confrontation, truly desiring to listen and connect, and are likely to circle back again." 

The study was based on an online survey of 1,324 US teens aged 13 to 18 between March 5 and April 16, 2021.

More on this topic: 

Young Christians are increasingly pluralistic in their worldview - study

Nearly half of millennials 'don't know, don't care or don't believe' God exists

Significant minority of young people never attend a religious service - poll