David Kinnaman is President of the Barna Group research company . His 2007 book, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity ... And Why It Matters, was written to describe how emerging adults who are outside the church, think about Christians and Christianity. That was a useful book in thinking about how others on campus view campus ministry groups.
Now Kinnamen has followed that up with You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...and Rethinking Faith, a book which describes what Christian emerging adults think about the church and Christianity. The book is a result of a five-year project incorporating eight national studies, and was recently published by Baker Books.
It is a sobering, but helpful assessment. Sobering because he makes his case from data, and the results are not good. Helpful because not only are the areas which cause Christians to drop out or wander away are described, but also because some over-arching ideas about how the current church needs to change in order to respond to this generation are given.
The last section of the book puts this into practice by giving 50 ideas to connect written by 50 different responders, including well-known evangelical Francis Chan, Collegiate Ministry author and blogger Chuck Bomar, Kenda Creasy Dean from Princeton Seminary, and recent college grads.
The book’s website includes two study guides; one for leaders/ pastors and one for parents/ grandparents.
Kinnaman sees the current generation attitudes heavily influenced by their elder’s attitudes and Christian education hits and misses. In many ways, this means that college ministry to these Mosiacs starts with a disadvantage. (The Barna Group has been referring to Millennials /emerging adults as “Mosaics”, because of their mosaic approach to life, and the spectrum of attitudes and characteristics they exhibit.) It does, however, point to some areas which would be helpful for campus ministry programming: Creating a safe space for doubting and challenging their faith; clearly addressing scientific culture and methodology; honestly addressing sexuality and sexual issues (and not just GLBTQ issues); and addressing the exclusiveness and openness of Christianity.
Read this book. Encourage any youth minister or Christian Educator you know who is good to read it. It’s that important.
You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...and Rethinking Faith. David Kinnaman . Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 201.1
“The Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church” is a short article giving the highlights of the project’s findings.
The book’s website has a downloadable chapter and additional articles, as well as the study guides mentioned above.
unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity ... And Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007
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