Faith for the Future: Leaders Respond to New Barna Insights

Over a decade and a half, we’ve been privileged to interview nearly 100,000 young people, speaking with them about everything from their social views to faith perceptions as we discover how they are beginning to shape the world around them and, of course, the future Church. In partnership with World Vision, Barna has produced a first-of-its-kind study that dramatically widens—and focuses—the lens with which we view young adults around the world. We’re calling it, and them, The Connected Generation.

Last week, we launched this study with a free, live webcast—Faith for the Future—and shared the key research findings that were uncovered from surveying 15,000+ young adults ages 18 to 35 in 25 countries and nine different languages. The broadcast also featured informative interviews and panel discussions with faith leaders and experts from around the world, many of whom are Millennials themselves.

Viewers in 88 countries and six continents tuned in to watch the webcast, which is still available for free replay until March 1, 2020. Below, you will find feedback from leaders who plan to incorporate what they learned from the webcast and this research in their specific context. (Responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.)


“‘Resilient disciple’ is now a part of our vocabulary, and we are moving toward identifying that within our church … both current / active resilient disciples and how we can move toward developing resilient disciples within our context.” –Seven Oaks Church

“My application from the webcast is this weird mix of deep sorrow and abundant joy. My soul weeps for a whole group of young, amazing people who do not feel nurtured, supported and encouraged for who they are as God’s awesome creations. This is crushing! Equally, my joy rises because as a byproduct of this webcast, Barna, by pointing out statistics, enables us to focus on what to do with Jesus’ endless love, which is reach the broken generation not with a fast fix, but with ears to listen, hearts to connect and compassion to extend.” –William Hagenbuch, author of Jesus Cloned

“Thinking of the statistics given gave me more passion to make sure ‘my kids’ end up in the resilient disciple category, not the prodigals.” –Becky, Youth Minister at ELCA Youth Group

“As the missions director, I want to use the information learned to make sure our church is getting involved in a meaningful way and find ways to connect to this generation through the outreach and missions that we are participating in. As the women’s director, I want to find ways to train our older generation to see past the ‘labels’ and find the Jesus in every person. I want them to embrace that this generation needs people to believe in them. It also confirmed for me that the mentorship program we are trying to build IS necessary!” –Toni Mihal, Director of Adult Ministries

“This gives us more specific insights on our messaging and future content development with younger audiences (specifically dealing with debilitating anxiety).” –Joe Padilla, Cofounder & CEO of Mental Health Grace Alliance (The Grace Alliance)


“I think this will inform the ways in which we talk about developing college students. Our staff work in partnership with local churches, and I think this has a great deal of relevance for integrating college students into the life of the local church. I also think it helps to know more about some of the motivations (broadly) of students. … We’ve had some well-informed conversations about developing students into student leaders, and I think that Barna’s research supports what we have long known to be true. It’s affirming to be sure, but it means that whatever doesn’t help us to develop student leaders needs to take a back seat to that task.” –Michael Swanson, Assistant Director of Training at Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO)

“In my upcoming board meeting, we will be discussing ways to implement some of the research findings in our local, state and national meetings.” –Elizabeth Hodges, Director at Women Nationally Active for Christ (WNAC)

“[The research] will infuse my communications both personally and professionally. The information helped create an enlightened mindset so that I view this generation with more understanding and a greater hopefulness. … One specific insight that stuck with me was that this generation ‘doesn’t just want to know that Christianity is true, they want to know it is good.’ That is powerful in how ministry approaches this generation as a whole—it’s a very different perspective from previous generations who were not that cynical.” –Peg Jones, Director of Marketing, AAEO at North American Mission Board

“We have been heading down this same road and were confirmed in many of our ministry concepts. Hopefully, this will help us as we try to serve and interact with the broader community we are part of.” –Josh Cramer, Cole Community Church

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