Through our research, two important themes have emerged:
First, to truly prepare our children for faith-filled adulthood, we need to consider reframing “children’s ministry” as something closer to “child discipleship,” a model we unpack in detail throughout the report.
And second, the work of discipling children should not fall solely to kids’ ministry staff or to parents—it must become a point of focus and effort for entire church bodies.
If you’re passionate about doing everything you can to train up kids who will become future leaders inside and outside of the Church, we created this report for you.
David Kinnaman is the author of the bestselling books Faith For Exiles, Good Faith, You Lost Me and unChristian. He is CEO of Barna Group, a leading research and communications company that works with churches, nonprofits, and businesses ranging from film studios to financial services. Since 1995, David has directed interviews with more than two million individuals and overseen thousands of U.S. and global research studies. He lives in California with his three children.
Matt serves as the President and CEO of Awana, a global leader in child discipleship. Matt firmly believes that in this cultural moment, God is calling church leaders and child influencers to understand the times and to make resilient child disciples who will lead the church of the future. Prior to joining the Awana executive leadership team, Matt served in leadership roles with Randall House Publishers, Thomas Nelson Publishers and was the co-founder of the D6 Conference, a discipleship and family ministry community. He’s also the co-founder of the Child Discipleship Form and has co-authored three books: RESILIENT: Child Discipleship and the Fearless Future of the Church, Leading KidMin: How to Drive Real Change in Children’s Ministry, and The Gospel Truth About Children’s Ministry. Matt enjoys carpentry, creating beautiful spaces, outdoor exploration, and breakfast with Katie. Matt and his wife Katie have been involved in children’s ministry for more than 25 years and spend their time in Nashville with their two sons.
Liza is a native Southern Californian who is a self-confessed participant in the fast-paced lifestyle and culture of Orange County. As such, she has a deep heart and passion to see the families of our communities mend broken relationships and heal emotional, mental, spiritual and relational wounds. From her years working and serving in ministry she has a huge heart for people and seeing them reach their potential. She believes her life experiences that have brought her to today – joyfully married for eleven years with four beautiful children – will help you likewise reach your dreams and aspirations.
Sam attended Portland Bible College in Portland, Oregon where he graduated in 1997 with a BA in Theology. He was a children’s pastor at the same church for over 24 years. In 2021, he graduated from Knox Seminary with a M.A.CCS (Masters in Christian and Classical Studies) and M.A.BTS (Masters in Biblical and Theological Studies)
He has been married to his wife for 23 years, and they live in Upstate New York with their four beautiful children.
Daniel Copeland serves as Associate Vice President of Research for Barna Group. Trained in social and market research techniques, he helps with strategic growth and development efforts in both nonprofit and for-profit settings. Daniel works closely with organizations across the globe to help them critically consider best practices in navigating this cultural moment
As Barna’s Vice President, Church Engagement, Joe Jensen is passionate about turning research into action. As a former pastor, he is using his 20+ years of church ministry and executive leadership experience to engage and serve the global church and her partners with the insight and knowledge of the Barna Group. Joe, his wife Nicole, and their 4 daughters live in Kansas City, KS.
Savannah is Barna’s Associate Vice President of Church Engagement. Savannah loves facilitating Barna’s mission to provide the Church with knowledge to navigate a changing world. As a member of the Church Engagement team, she is passionate about taking Barna’s research and synthesizing it into helpful insights for Christian leaders–bridging the gap between data and practical application.
As a certified data miner and predictive modeler, Savannah specializes in advanced analytics. Prior to her time at Barna, she worked in the big data and software development spaces. She earned her B.S. in Mathematics from Samford University and her M.S. in Decision Analytics from the University of Alabama. Savannah currently lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Josh and her daughter Zoe.
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