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Generational Views on Faith: Gen X

Generational Views on Faith

Part 2 of 4

In our first blog of the series, we heard that attendance and giving are down among Boomers. Looking at Gen X (1965-1980) generation’s reasons from our ACST American Beliefs (research based on 15,000 respondents’ personal, social, and religious concerns), we see some similarities and differences to the Boomers (1946-1964). Let’s take a look. 

Social Issues and Concerns of Gen X

More than 50% of Gen X and Boomers are concerned with social issues like a mother and father should raise children if possible, the planet’s environment, having great hope for the future of their community, and believing that strong families are the key to social stability. However, Boomers believe that religion must play a primary role in shaping social morality – Gen X does not feel as concerned with that issue. While this generation was mainly raised attending church regularly with their family, only 34% today are active within a religious community. 24% of Gen X have no religious preferences, while 57% are engaged in a church and attend every week. 

When asked about religious preferences, 20% of Gen X stated that they had none currently and ten years ago. Meaning they were not part of any religious community, church, or faith-based organization. Those unaffiliated had similar social issue concerns as those part of a church, with a few exceptions. Unaffiliated Gen X are not as concerned that a mother and a father should raise children, that the U.S. should pursue avenues to stop illegal immigration, or that they have great hopes for their community. 

Why are the unaffiliated not part of a Religious Community today?

Why does Gen X lack the desire to attend church? 41% do not believe in God or feel that many gods exist. Just like Boomers, they think that people in the church do not behave as Jesus would, religious people are too judgemental, the church is too focused on money, and the religious leaders are untrustworthy. More than half feel that church isn’t relevant to their life. 

Churches are not as appealing to this generation as 27% said church was boring. 28% no longer believe, and some believe there are too many conflicts in religious communities today. The church can be too political, and when Gen X attended a service, many did not feel welcomed. 

Do you have to attend or be allifated with a church to believe in Jesus? According to more than 50% of Gen X, you do not. This generation believes that Jesus does not require us to attend or participate in a church to truly believe in Him. Today, those unaffiliated have had zero thoughts and explained that nothing would influence them to look for a church. 

What can churches do to reach Gen X?

Some important activities could draw Gen X in. Similar to the Boomer generation, these individuals seek warm and friendly encounters and opportunities to develop personal relationships. Gen X wants to be part of a small group or participate in social activities. Gen X grew up learning about computers and technology and saw the beginning of social media. Does anyone remember AIM? Daily, 55% of unaffiliated Gen X are on Facebook, and 45% are on YouTube. Close to 24% are on IG, with 24% on Snapchat and 21% on Twitter. 3% are on TikTok which is a newer social media platform for this generation and typically attracts the children of Gen X. 

Like Boomers, Gen X only wants to drive up to 30 mins to attend a service. Places of worship need to be close enough to reach out to Gen X and entice them into their buildings. Thanks in part to the pandemic of 2020, many church services are live-streamed, or churches have their own online church, making it easier to attend a service from the comfort of your home. 

Next, up – Gen Y views on the church.

AmericanBeliefs Study

Downloading the American Belief Reports will allow you to uncover

  • The religious activity level of Americans in communities and how it has transformed over the past decade.
  • The most pressing concerns Americans face today.
  • Good news and bad news about the theological beliefs of Americans and how they view places of worship.
  • The priorities people want in ministry programs offered to them.

Heather joined the ACST team in 2015 within the Support Department. Today working on the Strategic Expertise team, she oversees the operations of the Strategy and Brand team. Before joining ACST, she spent several years in Real Estate as an appraiser. This is where she realized her passion for data, research, and the value of being a voice for the client. Heather has led bible studies at her church and participated in different ministries.

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