How Mental Health Is the New Domain of Ministry to the Next Generation


Articles in Leaders & Pastors in Millennials & Generations • October 8, 2020

Well before the pandemic hit, Barna research—as well as others’—finds that young people, namely Millennials and Gen Z, are more likely than generations that came before to report battling with mental health issues. In research conducted for The Connected Generation, Barna’s largest-ever study, data show that half of U.S. 18–35-year-olds (49%) expressed anxiety over important decisions and were afraid to fail. Over three in 10 said they often felt sad or depressed (39%) or lonely and isolated from others (34%).

Recent data show that the mental health strain teens and young adults were under pre-pandemic have only intensified during the crisis. How should church leaders respond in light of these findings?

David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock, in part four of the five-part video series Five Essential Conversations About Ministry to the Next Generation, suggest it’s crucial for pastors to consider these pressures as they continue reaching out to the young people in their congregations. This means going a step further than the usual church interactions to encourage safe dialogue around mental and emotional health issues such as anxiety, depression and loneliness.

Kinnaman states, “It’s essential that the Church shows up to offer meaningful solutions in an era of anxiety.” Both he and Matlock agree that instead of shifting away from young adult and teen outreach, as many pastors have been likely to do during this season, it’s important to keep investing in these ministries.

Tomorrow, tune in for the final installment of Five Essential Conversations About Ministry to the Next Generation. Get the extended videos in a Barna Access Plus subscription, which gives you unlimited access to Barna Next Gen content, including Barna courses, labs and emerging data on younger generations to fuel your next gen ministry strategy. An Access Plus membership also includes access to all our research reports and six additional curated content channels for just $19 a month.

Or, get the Making Resilient Disciples course, now just $99, and receive the extended video conversations as an added bonus—this week only.

Five Essential Conversations About Ministry to the Next Generation:
Part 1: Why Millennials Aren’t Watching Your Streamed Worship Services
Part 2: Will the 2020 Pandemic Accelerate Loss of Faith Among the Next Generation?
Part 3: Why You Might Be Aiming at the Wrong Target in Your Ministry to the Next Generation
Part 4: How Mental Health Is the New Domain of Ministry to the Next Generation
Part 5: Why 2020 Might Be Good News for the Church

Comment on this research and follow our work:
Twitter: @davidkinnaman | @barnagroup
Facebook: Barna Group

Photo by Fernando from Unsplash.

About Barna
Barna research is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.

© Barna Group, 2020

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