Gen2 Survey: A Spiritual and Educational Survey on Christian Millennials

Article by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., January 30, 2015

Download the report as a PDF file. (1.66MB)

The findings of a fascinating new survey of 18-to-38-year-olds who were churched while growing up were released today. The Gen2 Survey is an in-depth nationwide survey of largely members of the Millennial generation.


The purpose of the study is to examine these adults who were churched growing up and to understand the key influences which either encouraged or deterred them from believing and practicing the faith of their parents. Being churched was generally construed as having to do with Christianity, or the Christian faith.


The Gen2 Survey (Generation 2, Generation two, second generation) was hosted online, and was open to any person aged 18-38. The survey was advertised as an opportunity for participants to describe how they felt about their upbringing. Participation in the Gen2 Survey was designed to be attractive to all Millennials, regardless of their particular background traits and how they were raised by their parents. Despite the large proportion of those who had been home educated growing up, special effort was also made to target and engage anyone, including those who attended Christian schools, public schools, and private secular schools for their elementary and secondary school years.

Dr. Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, is the principal investigator for the research project. The study’s data were collected during 2013-2014. The total sample size is 9,369 subjects. As part of this, a nationwide representative sub-sample of 907 subjects was purchased from a national, independent, third-party business and used as a comparative baseline to enhance the integrity and validity of the study.

More details on the methods are provided below.


Myriad findings are emerging from the study. Initial findings, being presented at a conference on January 30 and 31, 2015 in Kentucky, reveal some key patterns. For example, the frequency of church attendance while growing up, the quality of a teenager’s relationship with both of his/her father and mother, and the number of years homeschooled are consistently positively related with (the dependent variables of) the adult study participants’ Christian orthodoxy, general Christian beliefs, biblical behaviors, satisfaction in life, and civic and community involvement, and the similarity between the participants’ beliefs and those of their father and mother.

The number of years participants were in Christian schools had mixed – positive, neutral, and negative – correlations with the dependent variables mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Finally, the number of years spent in private secular schools and public schools, by these adults who were churched while growing up, were consistently negatively correlated with the dependent variables listed in the preceding paragraph.


In conclusion, the study focuses on the church life of minors, family relationships growing up, denominational affiliations of the family, cultural and societal influences in children’s lives, type of schooling/education children received (whether public schooling/state schooling, private secular schooling, private Christian schooling, or homeschooling) and the associations of these variables with Christian beliefs, behaviors, and practices in adulthood.

More details about the methods of this study and its results will be forthcoming from the National Home Education Research Instituteand Generations With Vision. Further, it is planned that the findings of the study will eventually appear in peer-reviewed journals and at NHERI.

–Brian D. Ray, Ph.D.
National Home Education Research Institute

Detail on the Methods Used

The target population for this study was all 18- to 38-year-olds in the United States who were churched while growing up. The total sample size in the study was 9,369. Of this, a nationwide representative sub-sample of 907 subjects was purchased from a national, independent business and used as a comparative baseline for the larger sample. The study and online survey were announced and/or made public to the target population general public by way of a wide variety venues. These included the following:

· Third-party business, paid sample, one of the world’s leading providers of web-based survey solutions

· Facebook advertisements (e.g., one targeted those with interests in a large secular homeschool organization, statewide, on the west coast; one targeted those nationally with a general interest in Christianity)

· University, secular, in a southeast state, promoted to the students

· Evangelical church, large, in a northwest state, promoted to the members

· Several websites (e.g.,,,

· Many statewide and nationwide homeschool organizations’ websites, Facebook sites, and/or their e-mail lists of constituents

· Bloggers, ages 18-38, posted the survey to their blogs and promoted the study

· Word of mouth, snowball

· Facebook account holders referring the survey to others people, snowball

The online survey was comprised of the following several sections:

1. Current Life

2. Church or Spiritual Practices

3. Education

4. Culture and Worldview

5. Life

6. Volunteer work

7. Current life, more

8. Open-ended item

The survey had 128 items (or questions) and some of these had multiple parts.

The key variables that have been used in data analysis to date were divided into two main groups, growing up and adult living, as shown below.

Growing up as minors

1. Church involvement

2. Family relations

3. Cultural influences

4. Type of schooling/education, grade levels K through 12

Adult living

1. Orthodoxy

2. Christian beliefs, broader

3. Christian behaviors

4. Satisfaction in life

5. Civic/community involvement

Analyses were executed to determine which items best and most reliably comprised the variables listed immediately above. Here is the detail on those.

Growing up as minors

1. Church involvement (combination of 3 items)

2. Family relations (family relations growing up; 2 items)

3. Cultural influences (many items, e.g., Internet access when a child; worldview training growing up; corporal discipline received)

4. Type of schooling/education, grade levels K through 12 (years public schooled, Christian schooled, private secular schooled, and homeschooled)

Adult living

1. Orthodoxy (measure of Christian biblical beliefs, a long-used scale in religion research; 6 items)

2. Christian beliefs, broader (Christian beliefs/attitudes in adulthood; 12 items)

3. Christian behaviors (Christian behaviors in adulthood; 10 items)

4. Satisfaction in life (satisfaction with life in adulthood; 13 items)

5. Civic/community involvement (civic and community