A Window to Reach Gen Z: Study Finds 45% of Young Adults Intrigued by Message of Scripture and Jesus
American Bible Society today released the fifth chapter of their 13th annual State of the Bible report, which highlights cultural trends in the U.S. regarding spirituality and Scripture engagement. Today’s release focuses on faith and Scripture engagement among Gen Z adults—revealing a trend away from faith practices like Bible reading but also a continued curiosity about the message of Scripture and Jesus. The first five chapters of State of the Bible 2023 are now available to download at StateoftheBible.org.
“Gen Zers have been described as curious, digitally savvy, and advocates for change. We see all of this reflected in our research, but we also see a generation struggling to find their footing with faith,” said John Farquhar Plake, PhD, American Bible Society’s Chief Ministry Insights Officer. “Scripture engagement rates for Gen Z have been on a steady decline over the past three years. Today, just one in ten Gen Z adults regularly engages with the Bible. However, this generation still shows significant interest in the Bible and the message of Jesus. Ministry leaders may be surprised to find how open Gen Z adults in their communities are to discussions about God’s Word. And if the trends we’re seeing continue—it’s crucial to be having those conversations now.”
State of the Bible findings come from a nationally representative survey performed for American Bible Society by NORC at the University of Chicago, using their AmeriSpeak panel. The data came from 2,761 online interviews with American adults in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- Nearly half of Gen Z adults say they are “extremely curious” about Jesus. A total of 44% of Gen Z adults reported being “very/extremely curious about the Bible and/or Jesus.” There is a distinction between the younger and older age cohorts within Gen Z. The majority (56%) of younger Gen Z adults (ages 18–21) reported being curious about Jesus and/or the Bible, whereas only 34% of older Gen Z adults (ages 22–26) said so (page 102). These percentages are down from 2022 when around 77% of all Gen Z adults showed curiosity in Scripture.
- Despite low Scripture engagement, around half of all Gen Z adults say their lives have been transformed by the Bible’s message. Among Gen Z adults, Scripture engagement rates have declined steadily over the past three years—dropping from 14% (2021) to 12% (2022) to just 10% of Gen Z adults for 2023. Despite this decrease in Scripture engagement, 49% of Gen Z adults ages 18–21 and 52% of Gen Z adults ages 22–26 say that their lives have been transformed by the Bible’s message (page 103).
- More than half of Gen Z adults identify as Christians. Although a growing percentage (34%) of Gen Z adults identify as agnostic, atheist, or having no religious faith, more than half (58%) still identify as Catholic, Protestant, or “Other” Christian tradition (page 94).
- Non-Practicing Christian and Non-Christian Gen Z adults are still open to Scripture-based experiences and conversations. A quarter of non-practicing Gen Z Christians said they would consider a Christian friend’s invitation to stream a church service online, watch a TV show or movie about Jesus, or attend a Christian concert. Additionally, one in five (18%) non-Christian Gen Z respondents said they would consider eating a meal in a group where biblical issues were discussed (page 106).
Between September and December 2023, American Bible Society will release four new chapters in the State of the Bible story, including the impact of emerging technology on Bible engagement habits, new insights on how the Bible affects philanthropic habits, and highlights from this year’s research.
To download the first five chapters of State of the Bible 2023, visit StateoftheBible.org.
*For descriptions on how Scripture engagement was measured and reported, please see page 35 of the ebook available for download at StateoftheBible.org.
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