Barna: 8 out of 10 young Christians can't apply their faith to everyday life

Pollsters look at the top six trends in faith for 2011

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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. 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 cites six reasons that young adults leave church as well as five common myths about church dropouts.

The six reasons? According to Barna:

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective. A few of the defining characteristics of today’s teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23 percent indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the

problems of the real world” (22 percent) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18 percent).

What do young Americans need?


The study of young adults focused on those who were regular churchgoers Christian church during their teen years and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15. No single reason dominated the break-up between church and young adults. Instead, a variety of reasons emerged.

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31 percent). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24 percent) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23 percent). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20 percent).

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