Millennial Topical Survey Report
The Millennial Topical Survey is a research project that measures the importance of various topics to millennials and adults within Generation Z as these topics relate to religion.
The Short Version: What We Learned
We realize that not everyone has the time or desire to read through a detailed explanation of the finer details of the project. If you are concerned primarily with what we learned and how it can help improve your church’s millennial outreach efforts, you can click the button below to skip to the results. However, we would encourage you to consider reading the entire report even if statistics is not a favorite topic.
At the highest level, our project can be broken down into the following steps:
- We started by building a list of relevant topics areas and subtopics of interest to young people.
- We reviewed the content in the books “The New Copernicans” and “Growing Young” to inform our list of topics and overall study.
- We conducted a literature review to see if similar studies have been performed and to gather background information.
- We completed sample size calculations for validity and compared these to sample sizes used in other studies.
- We organized and built the survey.
- We did a pilot survey from randomly picked participants we had gathered earlier.
- We disseminated the survey through Facebook ads to a larger audience.
- We analyzed the data, created visualizations, and drew conclusions.
For this research study, an online survey was used to investigate which topics millennials and older members of Generation Z find interesting in relation to Christianity. The topics that were included were drawn from a list built by several millennials working on the project and cross-referenced with various literature on the topic.
The survey gathered data on basic demographics and then asked participants to rate various topics on a sliding scale with “Uninteresting – Don’t want to see addressed in churches” on the left and “Interesting – Want to see addressed in churches” on the right.
The survey was advertised through Facebook to those living in the United States age 18-30 who do not attend church regularly but are not atheists. By using an ad, this effectively randomized the responses received, but this limited responses to those who use Facebook. However, the majority of people in this age range use Facebook, making this a fairly representative sample.
The survey was open for 11 days, yielding responses from 365 individuals. 100 of these were incomplete responses, responses from individuals older than 30, or responses from individuals who indicated they go to church regularly (scoring 50 or higher on a scale from 0 “Never” to 100 “Every week” for how often they currently attend church). This resulted in 265 valid responses from individuals 18-30 who do not attend church regularly. The results were analyzed and further broken down by sex and marital status in order to analyze any significant differences in opinion between male and female as well as married and single people. This gives further insight into which topics specific groups of millennials and Generation Zs want to see addressed in relation to Christianity. Generalizing these results to the entire 18-30 population in the US (approximately 56,000,000 people), this sample size gives us a 6.0% margin of error at the 95% confidence level. When looking at females individually, the margin of error is 7.3% at the 95% confidence level, and when looking at males individually, the margin of error is 10.9% at the 95% confidence level.
These results will be used to inform Churches of which topics millennials and Generation Zs find most interesting in order to expand their outreach to these demographics more effectively.
For a survey to be valid, the most important aspect aside from maximizing sample size is randomness. The respondents need to be selected randomly from the population in question for the results to be generalizable to that population. For the topic survey, running a Facebook ad was a way of randomizing the survey. This randomly targets people within the age group we are trying to study, and does not introduce selection bias. However, the results are limited to those who use Facebook, but this was not a major concern in this study because the population in question has a high proportion of individuals using Facebook.
With the result of a 6.0% margin of error at the 95% confidence level, we are confident that if this survey were replicated, 95% of the time we would find result that are within 6.0% percentage points in either direction from the results we obtained. This means that the information learned from this survey about opinions of different topics is generalizable to the 18-30 year old population in general, and is quite accurate and valid.
Below is a list of topics that we determined may be of interest to young adults. All topics below were included in our topical survey.
Finances & ChristianityShow Topics
Making a difference
College scholarships and fundraisers
Tithing & Offering
Science & ChristianityShow Topics
Big bang theory
Single atom theory
Research involving embryos
Stem cell research
Environmentalism & ChristianityShow Topics
Stewardship of the planet
Good & Evil & ChristianityShow Topics
Why does God allow babies to get diseases?
Why does God allow shootings?
Is God more powerful than the devil?
Why do some Christians in positions of power abuse others?
Why does God allow bad things to happen?
Why does God bless others more than me?
Burdens & ChristianityShow Topics
Doubts about the existence of God
Breaking the law
Anxiety and depression
Reconciling with other religions
Lifestyle & ChristianityShow Topics
Attending church service
Sex before marriage
Building a family
Meaning of Life & ChristianityShow Topics
Who am I?
What happens after death?
Getting to know who God really is
Experiencing the true love of God
What is my purpose in Life
How can I bring value to the lives of others?
How can I serve others?
Building a family that loves God
Building a legacy to leave behind
Setting the captives free
Compassion & ChristianityShow Topics
Helping the poor
Equality & ChristianityShow Topics
Equal roles for women in the Church
Black Lives Matter
Gay marriage/Marriage equality
Protecting the rights of minorities
Other QuestionsShow Topics
What is the Holy Spirit?
Conclusion and Visualization
Demographics from the 265 valid, filtered survey responses are shown in the nearby chart. About two-thirds of the responses are from females, and this higher rate of female response is consistent with other online surveys. Almost 60% of these respondents are married. Responses came from people living in 44 states, showing how the Facebook ads did reach a wide geographical audience. Almost 75% of respondents indicate having been raised in a Christian home.
On a scale from 0 (Never) to 100 (Every week), respondents averaged a 12.7 in terms of how often they currently attend church. Responses above 50 on this scale were not included in the results because the target group is people who do not currently attend church regularly. On a scale from 0 (Negative view) to 100 (Positive view) of Christianity and Christian Churches, the average response was 49.0, indicating neither a positive nor negative view of Christianity and Christian Churches overall.
Interest: Topic Areas
Because we included so many topics in our survey, we aggregated the topics into larger related topic groups to achieve a visualization that is simpler to interpret. The results are displayed in the bar graph below. Each bar represents the average interest of the topics contained within the encapsulating topic area. If you are interested in the individual topics contained within each topic group specifically, they are presented in the next section.
Average Interest Rates of Various Topic Areas in Regard to Christianity and Churches
Interest: All Topics
The survey results for every single topic we featured can be viewed in the image below. Click the image to view it as full size in a new window.
A point of interest we stumbled upon during the survey was that of the email addresses given by the respondents, the majority (almost two-thirds), were Gmail addresses. This is notable because it suggests that using the Google Display Advertising network to target banner ads at Gmail users would be an effective millennial outreach approach.
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Differences in Interest: Gender
The opinions of males and females were also compared in order to see if there are topics that have statistically significant differences of opinion between the two groups. Out of the full topic list, sixteen showed differences between males and females at p-values less than 0.05, indicating significance. In general, males were more interested than females in topics such as working out and science, and females were more interested than males in topics such as fellowship, divorce, pregnancy, and suicide. These differences are visualized in the bar graph below.
Topics With Statistically Significant Differences in Average Interest Rating Between Males and Females
Differences in Interest: Marital Status
The opinions of married and single people were compared in order to see if there are topics that have statistically significant differences of opinion between these two groups. Out of all topics, 28 topics showed differences between males and females at p-values less than 0.05, indicating significance. These differences are visualized in the bar graph below.
Topics With Statistically Significant Differences in Average Interest Rating Between Single and Married People
Overall, this study has yielded informative and interesting results. It gives a strong sense of which topics millennials and older members of Generation Z find interesting and want to see addressed more often in churches. These results are statistically significant with a high level of confidence and can therefore be generalized to the entire 18-30 year old population of the United States. Notably, these results show that people in this age group do not find some of the “trendy” topics such as tattoos, sex, partying, pornography, drugs, and alcohol as interesting and relevant as might have been expected. In contrast, young adults are actually highly interested in issues of identity, purpose, service, and mental health. This data is a valuable resource to churches who want to reach those in this age group who are not currently attending church regularly. It allows for churches to reach out in meaningful ways to a group of people who may be searching for a place to belong.
Thanks for reading!