Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Barna Study Reports Millennials are Rethinking Christianity

The Christian community is struggling to remain connected with the next generation of teens and young adults. In particular, the church is “losing” many young creatives (like designers, artists, writers, musicians, and actors) as well as young science-minded students (such as medical students, engineers, biologists and mathematicians).

Another key theme from Barna Group’s research in 2011 is the new generation gap hitting the Christian community. Many of today’s congregations are struggling to remain connected with Millennials (a generation that Barna calls Mosaics). The faith journeys of teens and young adults are often challenging for many parents and faith leaders, who often misunderstand how and why young people become disconnected. Barna Group’s Faith That Lasts Project emphasizes the fact that every individual is different and experiences a unique series of events that lead to disconnection. Yet, the research also points to six reasons that young adults leave church as well as five common myths about church dropouts.

In particular, 84% of Christian 18- to 29-year-olds admit that they have no idea how the Bible applies to their field or professional interests. For example, young adults who are interested in creative or science-oriented careers often disconnect from their faith or from the church. On the creative side, this includes young musicians, artists, writers, designers, and actors. On the science-oriented side, young engineers, medical students, and science and math majors frequently struggle to see how the Bible relates to their life’s calling.

This is particularly urgent because nearly half of Christian teenagers aspire to careers in science and nearly one-fifth are interested in creative professions. The Barna study showed that faith communities can become more effective in working with the next generation by linking vocation and faith.

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