'Digital natives' are doing what comes naturally, says McFarland

'Digital natives' are doing what comes naturally, says McFarland

'Digital natives' are doing what comes naturally, says McFarland

With research showing that more Millennials are practicing their Christian faith online, a biblical apologist encourages older generations to keep an open mind.

According to "Digital Religion Among U.S. and Canadian Millennial Adults," the study published in the Review of Religious Research last year, 41% of American Millennials – the mid-20s to early-40s set – consume some religious or spiritual content online at least once a month. That reportedly includes chat groups with pastors, online sermons, and religious content on social media

The author of the study, University of Waterloo sociology professor Sarah Wilkins-Laflamme, concludes that the internet is not attracting many lost Millennials. But for those who already have a faith, online content enriches their experience.

Biblical apologist Dr. Alex McFarland urges older Christians to bear in mind that like so many other things, the internet is a tool.

"Like so much about the internet, it's not all bad, and it's not all good," he responds. "There's great potential for good."

He also points out that technology has never been an obstacle for God.

McFarland, Alex (Christian apologist) McFarland

"The very same Holy Spirit that has instructed people through the printed page over the centuries, I believe the Spirit of God is leading people," McFarland submits. "I know young people are hungry for truth and for definitive information about God and salvation."

And while he advises Millennials to not get all of their church life online, he recognizes that turning to technology is second nature for that generation.

"Digital natives have never lived without mobile devices, the internet, Wi-Fi, [or] online content," the apologist notes. "In gravitating toward the internet for spiritual information, Millennials and younger are doing what comes naturally, which is going online."

With that in mind, McFarland sees many established and forward-thinking ministries finding great success online. He says the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, for example, is "probably winning more people to Christ every year online than Dr. Graham did in the decades of stadium crusades."

Millennials are described as "generally those born and raised in the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s." For the purposes of this study, the cohort was limited to the years 1984 to 2001.