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Digital Babylon: Our Accelerated, Complex Culture

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.

Only One-Third of Young Adults Feels Cared for by Others

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.

Do Christians Consider Their Pastors to Be Friends?

Most U.S. adults hold a positive perception of pastors. In Barna’s 2017 The State of Pastors report, the data showed two out of three U.S. adults (66%) and nearly nine in 10 practicing Christians (91%) viewed pastors’ presence as a benefit in their community, while nearly the same percentage (64% U.S. adults, 87% practicing Christians) had a very positive opinion of a pastor they personally knew. In light of October being Pastor Appreciation Month and October 13th being Clergy Appreciation Day, Barna wanted to shed more light on pastoral perceptions on a personal level, outside of regular church services and events. In this article, we will learn more about those who view their pastor in a role other than church leader—and more specifically, as a friend.

A Snapshot of the Values, Views & Faith of Hispanic Americans

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2017, Hispanics made up the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., with 58.9 million Hispanic-Americans representing percent of our national population. This culturally diverse group has roots in a variety of Hispanic countries, the largest percentages hailing from Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba, among others. Over the years, Barna has kept up with Hispanic faith trends in the U.S. (and, more recently, abroad). In light of Hispanic Heritage month, observed every year from September 15 to October 15 in celebration of the cultures and histories of the American Latino community, we want to offer a general profile of Hispanic Americans today.

Only 10% of Christian Twentysomethings Have Resilient Faith

In Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon, Kinnaman and his coauthor, Mark Matlock, get to know the one in 10 young Christians whom they call “resilient disciples.” But they also take a long look at three other paths taken by young adults with a Christian background. Taken together, there are four kinds of twentysomething “exiles” making their way in our current day and age, which Kinnaman calls "digital Babylon."

Explore Faith for the Future

On September 10, The Connected Generation project launched with the Faith for the Future webcast, a live, free event where leaders from Barna and World Vision revealed main findings—some sobering, some hopeful—uncovered by this global data. The team was joined by panels of experts and ministers as well as viewers from 88 countries and six continents. Below, explore highlights from the data and the webcast, which will be available as a free replay until November 1.

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