Christ promised in Matthew 13 that there would be “tares” in the church. Tares are those who appear as a Christian, but have not truly believed. He indicated tares would be difficult to differentiate from true believers.

Teleios surveyed young evangelical Christians to investigate the incidence and identify potential characteristics of tares.


We evaluated the incidence of potential tares using two questions.

First: We asked how participants were saved, with none of the responses included ‘saved by grace.’ To answer correctly, the participants were required to enter an open-text description under ‘other.’

Second: We asked participants if they were ‘saved by grace through faith alone.’ Participants could not return to or make any changes to their response to the first question.


Of 1526 evangelical respondents who completed a survey advertised on the Instagram account Instapray, the majority:

  • Evangelical – 73%
  • Attended church at least monthly – 87%
  • Average age – 23 years

Look at fascinating findings!

First question: Interestingly, only 25% noted the first question contained only incorrect answers and supplied an alternative response under ‘other.’ Of these, approximately 60% included a statement including the concept of being saved by grace or faith without works, approximately 16% of the total survey population (below). 

First question: When I die I will go to heaven:

Second question: In contrast, for the second question, which displayed the appropriate answer (saved by faith alone) in a multiple choice list, 93% of participants selected “saved by grace.”

These two responses created a spread of 16% to 95% (a 79% difference) between those who could express salvation by grace without a written prompt, versus having to read the correct answer.

Second question: Do you believe that you are saved from your sins by faith alone in the forgiveness provided by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross? (proper choice provided)


Who are these potential tares?

These responders also demonstrated other characteristics including:

  • Diminished adherence to the Christian faith
  • Less confidence in salvation
  • Reduced well-being
  • Increased levels of guilt
  • Lower opinions of church leadership


These data suggest a significant percent of young, evangelical churchgoers do not clearly understand their salvation. They might be what Christ called “tares.”