The Spiritual Journey: 72% of American Evangelicals Came to Faith Before Adulthood

by Infinity Concepts | Jan 23, 2024 | Press Releases

EXPORT, PENNSYLVANIA – Approximately 43 million evangelical Protestant adults came to their faith before adulthood, with half arriving at their beliefs during the formative years between 5 and 15.

That was one of the benchmark findings of the latest research from Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research, The Spiritual Journey: How Evangelicals Come to Faith.

Among today’s nearly 59 million adult evangelical Protestants in the US, 72% came to their evangelical beliefs before the age of 18. In fact, half came to their evangelical beliefs between the ages of 5 and 12. The average age of belief for adult evangelicals is 15 years old.

More than 16 million arrived at their faith after age 18.

Key Findings:

  • Parental Influence: The research identifies parents as the single greatest influence in the spiritual journey of evangelical Protestants. A remarkable 28% credit one or both parents as the most significant factor in their belief, while an additional 23% acknowledge their parents’ substantial influence, though not singular.
  • Church Impact: The church emerged as the second most influential factor, with 16% attributing their belief formation to its influence.
  • Media’s Supportive Role: A striking 96% of evangelicals cited multiple influences in their journey to becoming Christian believers. The average evangelical named 3.4 different influencing factors, including family (71%), church (73%), personal Bible reading (46%), personal tragedies or difficulties (23%), and friends (22%).
  • Diverse Influences: The research dispels the notion of a singular conversion factor, as 96% of respondents cited multiple influences. On average, evangelicals named 3.4 different factors contributing to their belief.
  • Rare Defined Moments: Contrary to popular belief, a majority of evangelical adults cannot pinpoint a specific moment of conversion. The journey to faith is diverse, individualized, and shaped by various factors.

“Keep in mind that the average adult evangelical’s conversion happened nearly 37 years ago, so 1986 or before,” added Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research. “In 1986, only 48% of American households had cable television, meaning half the nation was limited to whatever local station might have Christian TV programming.

“No one could tune in to Christian programming on podcasts, satellite radio, or streaming audio or video. The Internet was still years away from being a reality for all but the most advanced technology users.”

As limited as Christian media availability was thirty or forty years ago, nearly eight million evangelicals today were influenced to make a decision for Christ in part by Christian media.

One of the key findings was that most evangelical adults cannot point to a specific moment when they became Christian.

“Evangelists and teachers can sometimes speak about salvation in ways that make it seem any true believer must have had a watershed moment in their lives,” Mark Dreistadt said. “But our research revealed that the journey to Christ is varied, individualized, and usually influenced by a variety of factors. Understanding these factors more fully may help in reaching others who have not yet completed this journey of faith.”

To delve into the complete findings, download The Spiritual Journey: How Evangelicals Come to Faith report here.


To schedule an interview with Mark Dreistadt or Ron Sellers, email Clem Boyd, Director of Public Relations, at clem@infinityconcepts.com or text or call him at 724.930.4003.

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