Just a few weeks ago, nearly half of U.S. pastors (47%) shared that one of the greatest challenges they’re facing at this moment is ministry to children and youth. This week, podcast hosts Carey Nieuwhof and David Kinnaman drill deeper into this stat with guest panelists Leslie Mack and Shane Sanchez, seeking to offer clarity and direction to leaders who are struggling with next gen ministry.
Religious language changes over time. Once-common words and phrases fall out of fashion and use for various reasons, often because younger generations feel their parents’ and grandparents’ preferred words don’t adequately describe their experience. today’s article takes a look at data from The Future of Missions, highlighting the way different age groups talk about missions and why teens and young adults lean away from certain terminology when discussing global ministry.
While engaged faith is alive and well among a significant minority of Millennials and Gen Z, not all are convinced of missions’ urgency and efficacy. The Future of Missions, a brand new Barna report conducted in partnership with International Mission Board takes a closer look at what’s keeping young Christians from wholeheartedly engaging with global ministry. In an effort to inform the conversations church leaders and parents should be having with the next generation of missionaries, this study analyzes Christian generations’ past and present practice and perspectives of missions.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis and current federal social distancing guidelines, digital Easter has become a reality for church leaders nationwide. Barna president David Kinnaman and Faith for Exiles co-author Mark Matlock have long been weighing the effects of digital Babylon on young adults (Millennials and Gen Z), sharing insights for faith leaders to lean on as they minister to the next generation. The current moment sheds new light on these findings which now very much apply to pastors’ outreach to all congregants, despite their age.
Barna spent much of last year researching and learning more about what we are calling the connected generation, the 18-35-year-olds—comprised of both Gen Z and Millennials—who are the future of our world. The Connected Generation report, conducted in partnership with World Vision, takes into account 15,369 interviews across 25 countries in 9 languages, allowing us both a broader and more-focused lens with which to understand young adults. With 2020 upon us and new year’s resolutions in full swing, we wanted to highlight the top accomplishments and goals of this generation.
Most Americans say they are Christians, but few follow that up with deep, heart-level, life-directing commitments. This is true of all generations, and it remains true of young adults in the U.S., two-thirds of whom identify as Christian.
Caring for the poor and vulnerable is a defining characteristic of being a Christ-follower, according not only to scripture but also to many Christian 18–35-year-olds (43%) in The Connected Generation study, a recent international Barna project produced in partnership with World Vision. If this is a primary sign that someone is a Christian, what kind of impression are faithful 18–35-year-olds leaving around the world?
Just over half of 18–35-year-old Christians surveyed for The Connected Generation study (54%) attend church at least once a month, including one-third (33%) who are in the pews once a week or more. Three in 10 (30%) attend less frequently. A small group of Christians (10%) says they used to go to church, but no longer do. Despite their fairly consistent presence in the pews, almost half of Christians (44%) say that attending church is not an essential part of their faith. But even if belonging to a community of worship isn’t always seen as essential, young Christians who attend church point to many reasons their participation may be fruitful, most of which pertain to personal spiritual development.
In The Connected Generation, a recent Barna study conducted in partnership with World Vision, data show that young adults face some unique headwinds on their road to becoming effective leaders. When we take time to listen—an essential practice for connecting with 18–35-year-olds—we hear a sense of unease about the future and uncertainty about the kind of leaders that could make a difference. Part of it is the underlying sense of anxiety that permeates many societies today. For good reason, the connected generation perceives deep, wide, systemic problems facing the world’s future.
In his 2011 book You Lost Me, Barna president David Kinnaman identified three trends shaping our culture: access (which, thanks to WiFi everywhere, is exponentially more amplified today), alienation (from institutions and traditions that give structure and meaning to our lives) and authority (which, like institutions and traditions, is increasingly viewed with suspicion). In the years since that book released, Kinnaman and the Barna team have adopted a phrase to describe our accelerated, complex culture that’s marked by unlimited access, profound alienation and a crisis of authority: digital Babylon.
An early and obvious theme to emerge from The Connected Generation—a Barna-World Vision partnership that surveyed 15,000 18–35-year-olds from 25 countries around the globe—is broad agreement with two statements: “Events around the world matter to me” (77% all) and “I feel connected to people around the world” (57%). The experience of connection in one’s daily life, however, isn’t a guarantee. In fact, the vast majority of young adults feels the impact of broad, global trends more than they feel loved and supported by others close to them. Just one in three 18–35-year-old respondents tells Barna they often feel deeply cared for by those around them (33%) or that someone believes in them (32%). Meanwhile, nearly one in four (23%) acknowledges encountering feelings of loneliness and isolation.