Millennials and Lent: An Unlikely Pairing, by David Kinnaman

Part of Lenten series Spiritual Formation in Everyday Life 

Millennials are by far the least likely age group to be aware of Lent—but, interestingly, they are more likely than average to say they are planning to fast.  

by David Kinnaman • President, The Barna Group

ash-wednesdayEvery year, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday, millions of people celebrate the 40 days of Lent by giving up—fasting from—certain foods or activities. It’s a practice with a rich history among many Christian traditions. But how likely are believers today to participate in Lenten disciplines—and, if they do choose to fast, what are they fasting from?

The majority of adults (72%) are aware of the Christian tradition of giving something up for Lent. Even among non-Christians, awareness of Lent is at about the same level (70%). Yet in spite of this widespread awareness of the season, only 17% of all adults—roughly one-fifth of those who know about the season—have practiced Lenten fasting in the last three years. The same number (17%) plan to give something up for Lent again this year.

Not surprisingly, practicing Catholics are among the most likely to have participated in Lent, with just over two-thirds (65%) saying they have celebrated the fast in the past three years. But many Protestants have also adopted the habit: one in six practicing Protestants (15%) say they have fasted for Lent in the past three years, and about the same number (16%) say they plan to fast this year.

Each younger generation of Americans is less likely to know about Lent. Millennials, the youngest adult generation, are by far the least likely age group to be aware of Lent (57%)—but, interestingly, they are more likely than average to say they are planning to fast in 2014 (20% compared to 17% among all adults). By contrast, eight out of 10 Boomers (80%) are aware of Lent, but only 10% are planning to give something up this year. Those in the oldest generation, the Elders, are most likely to know about Lent (82%) and most likely to celebrate it, with one-quarter (26%) planning to fast in 2014.

Among those who plan to celebrate Lent this year, the most common abstentions include food or drink, such as chocolate (30%), meat (28%), sugar (28%), soda drinks (26%), alcohol (24%), fruit (14%) and butter or cream (11%). Although less common, many Americans who fast for Lent are planning to abstain from technology or entertainment. This includes curtailing use of social networks (16%), smartphones (13%), television (11%), video games (10%), movies (9%) and the Internet (9%). Activities that were mentioned by fewer than 2% of respondents include sex, smoking and swearing.  Unsurprisingly, Millennials are the population segments most likely to fast from technology.

What the Research Means
Roxanne Stone, a vice president at Barna Group and general editor of the FRAMES series, points out that the data belies established stereotypes about Millennials and traditions, “The conventional wisdom says younger people are anti-tradition—that young Christians rebel against rituals they may deem ’empty’ or antiquated. However, the data shows Millennial Christians express distinctive interest in this ancient discipline—even more so than among their parents’ generation.

“The ability for people to adapt this practice to daily habits such as television, social media, video games and other modern ‘idols’ is likely part of Lent’s current appeal,” Stone says. “It’s a tradition that can connect a contemporary believer to a very ancient and rich faith history, while still feeling applicable to the realities of modern life.

“This connection is an important one for church leaders to note: the more rituals and belief practices can be made pertinent—that is, can be shown to have a depth beyond mere tradition—the more likely today’s Christians are to see their validity and to engage them. Young Christians have come of age in a time when everything feels up in the air; when the newest thing is old in just a few days. The ancient practices of the Christian faith may hold a counter-cultural appeal to many Christians, including Millennials, as they seek to find a sense of rootedness in such a shifting cultural context.”

Read Complete Lenten Research


5 Ways Churches Can Better Connect with Millennials, by David Kinnaman

Moving beyond the walls of the church to be the church with the next generation

College students and ‘twentysomethings’ who stay connected to a local church are twice as likely to have had a close personal friendship with an adult Christian who helped them connect faith to life

by David Kinnaman • President, The Barna Group

Startup BusinessMillennial ministry is so important our team decided to revisit some of our most popular research on young adults.

We want to help you learn more about the next generation in order to maximize your efforts to spiritually engage them. Over years of research, one thing remains clear: the relationship between Millennials and the church is shifting.

Although this list isn’t exhaustive, here are five major themes we’ve identified from our research.

1. Make Room for Meaningful Relationships
The first factor that will engage Millennials at church is as simple as it is integral: relationships. When comparing twentysomethings who have remained active in their faith after high school and twentysomethings who have dropped out of church, our research uncovered a significant difference between the two.

Those who stay are twice as likely to have had a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church (59% of those who stayed report such a friendship versus 31% among those who are no longer active).

The same pattern is evident among more intentional relationships such as mentoring—nearly three in ten active Millennials (28% ) had an adult mentor at the church other than their pastor, compared to the just one in ten dropouts (11%) who would say the same.

2. Create Reverse Mentoring Opportunities
The term “reverse mentoring” has come to describe the kind of give and take between young and experienced leaders. Effective ministry to Millennials means helping these young believers discover their own mission in the world, not merely asking them to wait their turn.

Millennials who remain active in church are twice as likely as dropouts to say they served the poor through their church (33% versus 14%). They are also more likely to say they went on a trip that helped expand their thinking (29% versus 16%) and more likely to indicate they had found a cause or issue at church that motivates them (24% versus 10%).

3. Teach Connection Between Vocation & Discipleship
Churches can deepen their connection with Millennials by teaching a more potent theology of vocation, or calling. Many churches seem to leave this kind of vocation-based outcome largely at the door—unless these students show interest in traditional church-based ministry. But what Millennials are seeking goes beyond this. Vocational discipleship is a way to help Millennials connect to the rich history of Christianity with their own unique work God has called them to—whether it’s within the walls of the church or not…

Continue reading

The Great Scythe Hanging Over the Head of the Church, by Ashley Ariel

Part of ongoing series: How Millennials Who Gave up  on Church are Re-engaging Community and Redefining Faith

These doubts and desperate graspings have snowballed into a certain terrible urgency ready to sweep away an entire generation into nihilistic despair. Utterly convinced that this world, this church and this God simply cannot be moved to care.


“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

I have wandering feet. I was born in Orange County, California, but have lived in New England, New York and Minnesota and have traveled through at least forty of the fifty states. Washed up in France once and got air sick all over Bolivia on my sixteenth birthday. Mexico and Canada have been in the mix and to my eyes, the world in its gloriously, mysterious vastness is up next.

I think part of my inclination toward continual movement is because before I turned ten I lived in seven different houses. My track record continued into high school where I attended four different schools and then, finally didn’t graduate from any of them. (The GED is a beautiful thing.)

You might say that wanderlust has been imprinted into my bones, but these movements and bittersweet goodbyes are only a part of my restlessness. The vast majority of my discontent is that ephemeral longing for things yet unseen.

This disconnect grumbles and growls around me, simmering in my soul as I strive to hold in tension the beauty and the pain of this world. A great deal of which was brought about by none other than ding-ding-ding: you guessed it! The church.

But I am being unkind. (I often am). I think it’s an easy excuse to dismiss God on the merit of his people. Which is perhaps untrue and most certainly unfair and yet my history of stepping into the ring with the eternal has not shown me a good God reflected in his people. In fact, I think it is this rumbling, grumblingly tenacious fact that leaves me wrestling with God and holding his church at arm’s length.

I have seen both beautiful and horrible things done in the name of God.  And so much evil precipitated by those claiming to be his people that my natural inclination is to go running in the opposite direction. If God is shown through his people then we are doing a right horrible job of it. Myself included.

I know anger at the church and anger at God is nothing groundbreaking, but it is such a theme in our culture that in my mind it is the continual, piercing shriek of a kettle left too long on the stove and it feels liable to explode at any moment in my thoughts, in my actions and in the swelling dissatisfaction echoing around this great big place called Earth. This is the issue of our generation. This is our sticking point. How the church deals with this anger combined with that creeping, restless, wandering disconnect of so many in our culture is the great scythe hanging over the head of the church.

These issues are hardly new. But in our high-tech, “always on,” manically streaming world that has the capacity to create such joy and such shattering loneliness these niggling worries and doubts and desperate graspings have snowballed into a certain terrible urgency ready to sweep away an entire generation into nihilistic despair. Utterly convinced that this world, this church and this God simply cannot be moved to care.

Where is God in all of this? What is God? Is He the song that bursts into your mind at an opportune moment? Is He the words that spring from your lips in a moment of clarity? Is He the joy set free to dance, skimming along the page when you set pen to paper (or fingers to keys) to pursue creativity? Or is He the hand that helps you up after you’ve fallen down a flight of stairs in the miserable, drizzling rain of a Southern California afternoon after you have undone three surgeries worth of knee injuries? Is He the nonsensical word that you receive from prophets when you go to receive prayer? Or is He in the blank faces inquiring if, “It’s ten percent better,” when you go to get healing? Where is God in all of this? That is the ultimate question, is it not?

Somehow I keep getting pushed back into faith, into churches and steeples and good Christian peoples. I find myself back in Christian institutions that move me into questions and tensions and beauties and heartaches and mouthed niceties and breathed obscenities that make up my bizarre relationship with the human. And yet, it is from these very institutions that claim to represent the risen Lord that I have been dealt the swiftest blows of greatest unkindness. Where is God in all that? I’m afraid I’m not sure what questions I’m even asking anymore or if there are any answers out there to find. Life is a deliriously beautiful struggle and most days it is only the most unflinching, bulldog tenacity that pulls my faith and me over the broken shards of these doubts, clutching with desperate fingers at the razor-tipped edges of my faith…

Continue reading: The Church as the Image of the Invisible 

Author’s Bio: Not quite young and not quite bold. Such unkempt glory roils my soul. I wrestle with art and I wrestle with life. I walk with a theological glint in my eye. These stories are my journey.  Me, alone, throwing darts into the abyss. Here I go, shadow-dancing with the eternal, please join me if you dare.  I am the the Wild/Restless.

Why Helping Millennials Develop as Leaders Requires a New Mindset, by Adam Vaccaro

Part of ongoing series: How Millennials are Redefining Faith and Re-engaging Community

Organizations need to shift the mindset of what a good manager does away from hitting those departmental goals–which rely on what he calls talent consumption–to graduating employees into better positions–or talent production.

by Adam Vaccaro • Inc.

Millennials want face time with top leaders and the freedom to grow (Photo: Forbes)
Millennials want face time with top leaders and freedom to grow and are more than willing to go elsewhere if you won’t provide in-house opportunities. (Photo: Forbes)

Among the starkest data points in Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report is this one: About two-thirds of companies around the world consider themselves weak in developing millennial leadership. Meanwhile, only 5 percent of companies rated themselves as “excellent” in that field.

The data comes on the heels of other reports showing trouble in leadership development programs. Among those findings: Companies are hurting themselves by failing to differentiate between high-performance and high-potential employees, and though they recognize the importance of talent development they’re not putting their money where their mouth is by investing in development programs.

If You Don’t Develop Them, You’ll Lose Them

Part of the trouble with developing young talent, Deloitte analyst Josh Bersin tells Inc., is that generally speaking, millennials approach their careers very differently than previous generations. They expect to rise fast, and if they can’t, they look for other opportunities.

Bersin’s assertion is backed up by separate data showing that just 23 percent of disengaged high-potential employees aim to stick around at their jobs, and only 55 percent of millennials say they are loyal to their companies (compared to 69 percent of other generations).

This makes it important, Bersin says, for companies to find ways to help young talent see the opportunities within their companies. He offered a few of strategies…

Read how top companies keep their best talent


Alone Together: Barna’s Three Digital Life Trends for 2014, by David Kinnaman

Nearly half of millennials report that their personal electronics create distance between themselves and other people.

“We seem determined to give human qualities to objects and content to treat each other as things.”  -Sherry Turkle, Alone Together

by David Kinnaman • President, The Barna Group

article-thumbToday’s personal devices may be wireless, but digital users seem to be more tethered than ever. From computer to phone to tablet to television, Americans spend more time in front of a screen than ever and show no signs of slowing down.

The effects of this widespread digitalization of life, for better or worse, are widely debated. But there can be no doubt about one thing: the digital life is here to stay, and it is changing everything. Work, faith, relationships, the very contours of young adulthood—all of these and more are dramatically shaped by the realities of our screen age.

Barna Group’s latest study reveals three cultural trends emerging out of the “new normal” of digital life.

The Hyperlinked Life
Digital life connects—and disconnects—adults in life and faith.

In 2013, two images of Saint Peter’s Square captured the world’s attention. The first, taken in 2005, shows a crowd attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The second, taken in 2013 from an angle similar to the first photo, shows a crowd observing the election of Pope Francis—only this photo exhibits a particular glow. Nearly every person in the picture is holding up a digital screen to capture the event.


These images are emblematic of a larger cultural shift that has just begun. In the hyperlinked age, people now view life—from its smallest details to its monumental moments—through a digital lens. And through this lens, they experience faith as well.

In fact, there’s not much that adults today don’t experience through a digital lens. And while the benefits of technology are many—increased information, social connectivity and even communities and tools for spiritual growth, to name a few—the hyperlinked life also opens up new challenges.

Because the relationship to personal devices is so strong, it naturally affects personal relationships—for better and for worse. Social media, of course, lives up to its name. As Barna data show, more than one-third of adults (36%) stop whatever they’re doing to check their device when they get a new text or message. About the same number (35%) admit their personal electronics sometimes separates them from other people.

The hyperlinked life has its advantages and disadvantages for a life of faith, too. For all their hyper-connectivity, for example, only 21% of adults say they set aside time each day to connect with God.

Continue reading


Read the next two trends…

Faith on Decline: Diana Butler Bass in Sobering CBS Video on Religion & Spirituality in a Changing Society

Part 17 in series How Millennials Who Gave up on Church are Redefining Faith and Re-engaging Community

“The biggest surprise was (that) Evangelical Protestant denominations have suffered almost as much decline in the last ten or fifteen years as liberal main line churches.”

-Diana Butler Bass



Next: Toward a Deep Blue Ocean: Forging a Robust Spiritual Development Stage-Theory


The Future of Faith in Film? Youth and Evangelicals Outstrip All Other Movie-going Audiences, by David Kinnaman

Part 2 in series The Future of Faith in Film and Television.  We asked observers in and around the entertainment industry to share their perspective on where faith is (or should be) headed in film and TV. Here’s what they said:

No one is surprised that 18-28 year-olds watch twice as many movies as any other age group.  What is surprising is that the average number of movies self-identified ‘evangelicals’ saw in 2012 is larger than followers of any other religion.  If Hollywood is listening then the future of movies could be greatly shaped by tastes of young Christ-followers. 

by David Kinnaman • President, The Barna Group

607-superheroes-presidents-and-a-girl-on-fire-2012-at-the-moviesOn the heels of massive box office performance from The Hunger Games and The Avengers, 2012 ended up setting a record for total box office sales (a staggering $10.8 billion), and also saw an incredible 1.36 billion tickets sold. With this weekend’s Academy Awards broadcast—the pinnacle of the film awards season—the cultural obsession with movies is at its peak. Viewership for the Oscars is still one of the larger of the year, and—in a year when most of the best picture nominees garnered over $100 million—arguments over who is (or isn’t) nominated and who should win are in full force.

But what are Americans’ true attitudes toward movies? Who sees them? Are Americans still going to the movies? Do Christians see more or less movies (or the same) as non-Christians? And, what do believers think of the movies they see?

Who Goes to the Theater?

If you’re a moviegoer, you might assume everyone goes to the movies. If 1.36 billion movie tickets sold in 2012, that means there were more than four movie tickets sold for every American. But, in actuality, a full 35% of the American population says they didn’t see a single movie in theaters in the last 12 months. And of people ages 67 and older, respondents report they’ve only seen, on average, 0.4 movies in the last year—meaning less than half of Elders set foot in the movie theater in 2012.

So who bought all those tickets? As you might expect, it was mostly young adults (i.e., Mosaics, ages 18-28) filling the darkened venues. Of that age group, the average Mosaic saw 3.4 movies in the theater over the last year—double the national average for all adults, which was 1.7 movies per person.



Does Faith Affect Viewing Patterns?

How does a person’s faith affect their movie watching habits? Well, in terms of the amount of movies seen at the theater, evangelicals saw 2.7 movies at the movie theater in the last year, a full movie more than the national, adult average. In fact, the average number of movies evangelicals saw is bigger than any of the age groups except for Mosaics. The only faith group that saw more movies than evangelicals were people who didn’t identify with any faith—that segment saw an average of 3 movies per person in theaters over the last year.

Which movies did evangelicals see? The year’s biggest film, The Avengers, was also a big hit among evangelicals. Over the last 12 months, 42% of evangelicals saw the film. That’s the highest rate except for people with no faith—43% of those surveyed who don’t identify with any faith saw The Avengers. Evangelicals also flocked to The Hunger Games (36% of them saw it in the last year) andThe Lorax (24%).



The biggest difference in movies between people of faith and people with no faith exists in movies like Skyfall and Argo. While 21% of people claiming no faith saw Skyfall, the most recent James Bond blockbuster, only 12% of evangelicals and 16% of non-evangelical born again Christians witnessed 007’s latest romp. And the highest group of people of faith who saw Argo—the story of a group trying to escape Iran during the 1981 U.S. embassy hostage crisis—were Catholics, at just over 4.5%. At the same time, 17% of people with no faith identification saw Argo.

Much has been made about how Hollywood influences the values and spirituality of Americans. And movies do affect how people think about faith and spirituality, but in smaller numbers than religious leaders might expect. For all the concern about the degradation of cultural values and Hollywood’s lack of a moral compass, just 1% of respondents say they saw a movie that changed their beliefs over the last year. Whether this is a perception or a reality is hard to say—but at the very least, people don’t think Hollywood is influencing their values and beliefs. In fact, only 11% of people say they saw a movie in the past year that made them think more seriously about religion, spirituality or faith.

However, 32% of evangelicals say they would seek out movies that dealt with more religious or spiritual themes. And with movies like Darren Aronofsky and Russell Crowe’s upcoming Noah adaptation and the ratings success of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s The Bible TV mini-series, it seems audiences might be getting their wish.

Or will they?

Next:  Vikings vs. The Bible: Why History Channel Won’t/Can’t Market Faith? by Craig Detweiler, PhD

See Also:

The Future of Faith-Based Filmmaking: What is a Christian movie? by Screenwriter Mike Rinaldi

Current Films by Act One Graduates Reveal Strange Dichotomy in Box Office Mojo’s ‘Christian Movie’ Category

The Blind Side Leading the Blind: Better Faith-Based Filmmaking through Better Stories

Why Most “Christian” Movies Suck, by Screenwriter Brennan Mark Smith

The Blind Side Leading the Blind: Better Faith-Based Filmmaking through Better Stories, by Gary David Stratton

Christians in Hollywood: A Mission Impossible Writer Offers a Treatment, by TV Writer Ron Austin




david-kinnaman-picture-smallDavid Kinnaman is the President of Barna Group and author of the best-selling books, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith, and unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity (with Gabe Lyons). Since joining Barna in 1995, David has designed and analyzed nearly 500 research projects for clients including Sony, NBC-Universal, World Vision, and Compassion International.  As a spokesperson for the firm’s research, he is often quoted in major media outlets such as USA Today, Fox News, New York TimesLos Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal).

© Barna Group, 2013. Used by permission. For more info from Barna Group study, click here.

Hookup Culture: Why Millennials Struggle With Attachment and Relationships, by Mike Friesen

Part 16 in series How Millennials Who Gave up on Church are Redefining Faith and Re-engaging Community

Historic Christian morality and modern neuroscience have come to the same conclusion: sex forms a nearly inseparable bond.  

by Mike Friesen • Launch Ministry

Castle Rock Entertainment, 2011

What we see in the Millennial generation is a generation that didn’t want to see the dysfunctional marriages that they themselves lived with when they were growing up and yet they still wanted to sustain and gratify their sexual urges (hence, these uncommitted relationships). My generation is having a hard time forming attachments with other people.

Kutcher and Portman or Erikson and Freud?

You can blame it on Hollywood. Movies like ‘Friends with Benefits’ with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis or ‘No Strings Attached’ with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman certainly chronicle the issue, but they hardly caused it. You could blame it on a culture that is built around instant gratification. You could even say that it is our ultimate desire that we just want to do what other people are doing so that we aren’t a social oddity.

Ultimately, I believe it comes down to an identity problem. No matter how we go through life we will assert our imprint on the world. Even social disengagement is a form of social engagement. How we interact with the world stems from a fundamental understanding of who we think we are. So in my sexual relationships, I have sex (or don’t have sex) with those based on how I understand myself and how I understand myself through others.

One of the most renowned 20th century psychologists Erik Erikson noted that the age in which we are supposed to be developing meaningful and bonding relationships happens between 18-30 (the age of the current Millennial relationships). Erikson believed, and I believe rightly, that it takes two whole people to bond and create whole relationships. It isn’t rocket science that broken people tend to create two types of social reactions when relationships are imposed upon them: codependent relationships or retreating into isolation.

Neuroscience and Morality 
Paramount Pictures, 2011

As Christians we believe that when we engage in sexual activity that there is a bond that is inseparable. Neuroscience has come to the same conclusion. When people have sex, several chemicals in their brain are released: one is oxytocin and another is dopamine. Oxytocin is the bonding chemical. When we have sex with someone we are supposed to be bonded to this person.

The more bonds we form with others, and these relationships are torn apart or disengaged, the more we struggle to bond with another. Dopamine is the feel good chemical. The more dopamine is released in our brain, the more we become attached to it. This is how sexual addictions are created. Sigmund Freud also called this engagement where sexual activity is used as a form to merely annihilate the tension we feel in our body a Death Instinct. It seems that from the Bible to neuroscience to Freud, that our sexuality outside of Eros, out of continual longing for union with a person, that our actions will lead to some form of biological or metaphysical death.

It’s Identity

All of this to bring us back to our fundamental question: Who am I? When we don’t know who we are, we won’t know what to do in our social engagements (sexual or not). Maybe our critique of the Millennial generation, my generation, comes from a poor or broken understanding of who we are. For Christians, we are called to help people understand who they are in Christ (as the beloved). If we are not Christians, how do we invite people into wholeness? How do we help people find themselves? How do we help people find one another?




Mike Friesen blogs on topics related to Millennial life and spirituality for Launch Ministry and Christianity for the Rest of Us

Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Next post in ongoing series: Sobering Video by CBS: Religion & Spirituality in a Changing Society
See Also:
Are Millennials Creating a New Religion? by Mike Friesen
The Zacchaeus Generation: Identity, Community, and Seeing, by Mike Friesen
How ‘Boy Meets World’ Reveals What My Generation Thinks About God, by Mike Friesen
Video: What South Park Teaches Us About Easter, by Mike Friesen
The Social Media Gospel: We Can’t Be Witnesses Where We’re Not Present, by Mike Friesen
The Poetry of Batman: This is how The Dark Knight Rises, by Mike Friesen


Friday Video: Follow Jesus, Gather in Missional Communities @BasileiaLA

A look at one of Hollywood’s thriving Millennial-focused churches: Basileia Hollywood, average age 26

“Basileia Hollywood may be the only church in America where a celebrity can get up to visit the restroom and have his seat stolen by a homeless guy.”

-Overheard one Sunday

Basileia Community from ROCKHARBOR on Vimeo.


The Basileia Vision

by David Ruis

The vision for Basileia Hollywood is best summed up in two sentences: “Friends sharing life, faith, and resources.” And, “We come together, because we can’t make it alone.”

“Friends sharing life, faith, and resources.” Basileia’s posture is that of “sharing.” This is quite different from that of simply “giving.” One can give of time, money and talent, and be quite disengaged in the ensuing transaction. Distant even.

To share is to be involved. To share redefines the way we handle our possessions. To share redefines the way we live out our faith in all contexts. Sharing life, faith and resource together requires a vulnerability and transparency that is only born of the fruit of the Spirit at work in community.  Sharing demands of us a meekness as we engage in cultural and systemic change in the society around us. We have set our compass here. It most certainly challenges us to swim upstream in the cultural milieu of LA/Hollywood, but we must turn our hearts towards this type of journey. (Acts 4:32-35; Galatians 5:19 – 6:10)

“We come together, because we can’t make it alone.” For the Basileia Community it impossible to flesh out these realities without building missional community. Relationships are central. One thing we love to say is, “We come together, because we can’t make it alone.”  Our resident theologian, Dr. Don Williams says it this way in his commentary on Galatians, Celebrate Your Freedom: “the truth of the gospel will be manifested in the quality of our relationships.” (p. 130)

Friendship is at the heart of it all. Jesus was known as the “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19) and makes the stunning declaration that He does not relate to us as “servants” but as “friends.” (John 15) He also states that there is “no greater love” than the love of one laying down their life for that of a “friend”. As we engage in our worship and step into the missional call of Christ upon us, we want to be a people marked by friendship, both with God and with each other.

Life. Faith. Resource. We want to bring it all to the table in surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit. Growing in our security that God is a good Father, and “our” Father, Jesus invites us to lay it all down, only to see it all resurrected again for His glory and the establishment of His kingdom. This really get’s us excited at Basileia.

We are all part of a bigger dream. God’s dream for LA and the world. A dream that involves us through the power of God’s Spirit going to “proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near” and to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy” and to “drive our demons.” As freely we have received, we are to freely give. (Matthew 10:7-8)

Our whole lives are surrendered here. Our faith finds it’s fullest vibrancy and expression here, for a faith that is not in motion is a dead faith. Our resources of time, money and talent are well spent in embracing the call to seek first His kingdom and it’s justice, no matter what our lives end up being in His hands. (Matthew 6:33)

So, as we like to say around Basileia, “Welcome to the journey.”

See also: Can Anything Good Come from Hollywood? Acton Institute Interview with Gary David Stratton




Millennials Receptive to but Highly Critical of Christianity, by Billy Roberts

Part 14 in series How Millennials Who Gave up  on Church are Redefining Faith and Re-engaging Community


Bad news for churches trying to fill their seats with young people. A recent survey of Millennial values conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute offers little in the way of good news for religious affiliation and the Millennial generation.

The study, conducted in conjunction with Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs shows that across the board numbers are dropping in religious affiliation among younger Millennials. College aged Millennials are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated than the rest of the public. Of those surveyed, despite only 11 percent being raised religiously unaffiliated as children, 25 percent now are unaffiliated with religion. The study does not paint a pretty picture for religious denominations which have typically ruled American religious life, such as mainline Protestants (Episcopalians, Presbyterian, etc.) as well as Catholics.

What’s most interesting however are the possible reasons for the break from religion, specifically Christianity, among Millennials.

Younger Millennials’ feelings about Christianity are decidedly mixed. Three-quarters (76 percent) agree that present-day Christianity has “good values and principles,” and 63 percent believe that Christianity “consistently shows love for other people.” On the other hand, strong majorities also agree that modern-day Christianity is “hypocritical” (58 percent), “judgmental” (62 percent) and “anti-gay” (64 percent).

So what we have are young people who are at least receptive to Christianity’s values and principles, but are turned off by its hypocrisy and strong judgment as it exists today. Especially when it comes to homosexuality.

…a PRRI survey found that nearly 7-in-10 (69 percent) 18-29-year-old Millennials agree that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.

Will we see a shift in the way churches engage with young people? Can (or better yet, will) the Church shed it’s “anti-gay” image?

If religious leaders — particularly in Catholic and white mainline Protestant churches — aren’t content to wait for the return of this generation’s prodigals, they are faced with a challenging task. The balancing act of whether and how to reshape present-day congregations to connect with a generation that remains receptive to — but also highly critical of — traditional forms of religiosity.

via ThePublicQueue 

Next Post in the series: The Millennial Teenager: An Infographic

New Study Reveals Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church, by Robert P. Jones, PhD

Part 13 in series How Millennials Who Gave up on Church are Redefining Faith and Re-engaging Community

by , CEO and Founder, Public Religion Research Institute

Pastors and priests seeking to fill their pews with young churchgoers have a tough task ahead. According to a newly released survey, even before they move out of their childhood homes, many younger Millennials have already moved away from the religion in which they were raised, mostly joining the growing ranks of the religiously unaffiliated.

The 2012 Millennial Values Survey, conducted jointly by Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, shows that college-age Millennials (ages 18-24) are more likely than the general population to be religiously unaffiliated (25 percent vs. 19 percent in the general population). Moreover, they report significant movement from the religious affiliation of their childhood: Only 11 percent of Millennials were raised religiously unaffiliated, but one-quarter (25 percent) identify as religiously unaffiliated today, an increase of 14 points.

These findings have profound implications for the future of religious denominations that have, in the past, dominated American religious life. Of those who are currently unaffiliated, around 1-in-5 were raised white mainline Protestant (21 percent) or Catholic (23 percent), the two denominations that saw the largest net losses due to Millennials’ shifts in religious identity. Among Millennials who were raised white mainline Protestant, only 59 percent continue to identify with their childhood faith, while nearly 3-in-10 (29 percent) identify as unaffiliated. Similarly, only two-thirds (64 percent) of Millennials who were raised Catholic remain within the fold, while one-quarter (25 percent) now identify as unaffiliated.

In addition to the increase in religious disaffiliation, younger Millennials report low levels of religious engagement across the board. Only one-quarter (25 percent) of Millennials say they attend religious services at least once a week, while 3-in-10 (30 percent) say they attend occasionally. More than 4-in-10 say they seldom (16 percent) or never (27 percent) attend. Similarly, while one-third (33 percent) of Millennials say that they pray at least daily, nearly 4-in-10 (37 percent) say they seldom or never pray. Notably, despite the fact that nearly half (48 percent) of younger Millennials report that they are living at home with their parents, Millennials who live at home are not more likely to attend religious services than Millennials overall.

The survey also offers some clues to why many Millennials are breaking away from their childhood faith, at least if they come from a Christian tradition. Younger Millennials’ feelings about Christianity are decidedly mixed. Three-quarters (76 percent) agree that present-day Christianity has “good values and principles,” and 63 percent believe that Christianity “consistently shows love for other people.” On the other hand, strong majorities also agree that modern-day Christianity is “hypocritical” (58 percent), “judgmental” (62 percent) and “anti-gay” (64 percent).

Notably, the perception that Christianity is “anti-gay” — an attribute that strong majorities of both Christian Millennials (58 percent) and religiously unaffiliated Millennials (79 percent) agree describes present-day Christianity well — may be driving some of Millennials’ estrangement from organized religion. Last fall, for example, a PRRI survey found that nearly 7-in-10 (69 percent) 18-29-year-old Millennials agree that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues.

This early adult drift away from Millennials’ childhood religion highlights a particular challenge for religious leaders, and not just in the short term. In some ways, this is not a new problem; it’s not uncommon for younger American adults to be less religiously affiliated than older Americans. However, the Millennial generation’s rate of disaffiliation is higher than previous generations at comparable points in their life cycle. It’s probable that fewer Millennials than previous generations will reliably return to congregations when they are older, settled and raising children.

If religious leaders — particularly in Catholic and white mainline Protestant churches — aren’t content to wait for the return of this generation’s prodigals, they are faced with a challenging task. The balancing act of whether and how to reshape present-day congregations to connect with a generation that remains receptive to — but also highly critical of — traditional forms of religiosity.

This article was originally published at “Figuring Faith,” Dr. Jones’ blog at the Washington Post’s “On Faith” section.

Next post in series: Millennials Receptive to but Highly Critical of Christianity, by Billy Roberts

Millennial Data Love Debate: Why We Keep Arguing Over the Data We Discover

Are Millennials more influenced by advertising than previous generations, or less influenced? Depends on the data we love the most.

by David Kinnaman

Millennials (or Gen Y, or Mosaics) have caused a lot of new study and discussion. I was reading this morning about their media use and response to advertising. One analyst claims in AdAge that Mosaics are the least likely to be influenced by television advertising. However, in a MediaPost article, another observer strongly refutes this claim. In fact, she describes her efforts as “myth busting.”

Two observations struck me:

First, the AdAge article confirms some things we have been learning at Barna Group about teens and young adults: today’s young adults are media blenders. They use terrestrial radio and digital radio. They view television plus Internet videos. They consume digital music and purchase vinyl records. They are increasingly comfortable with multiple forms of input: digital and analog. Most of us assume that next-gen adults are only comfortable in the digital domain, but their “blending” means that communication with and to this generation is more complex, especially because this broad menu of inputs makes them increasingly distracted.

Second, these articles reminded me of the controversy that many statistics generate, especially within the Christian community. It seems that data love debate. (Yes, that’s grammatically correct. “Data” are plural; “datum” is singular.) In most arenas of culture — media, the economy, retailing, healthcare, government, and so on — there is a debate about what is really true. The same thing happens with Christian statistics: there are different sources of information about the world of faith, but when these sources conflict, we often resort to impugning the motives and methods of others.

I believe we should have good, healthy debate about data — their accuracy and meaning. The more important the decisions we are making, the more crucial it is that we get our data right. But, from my standpoint, in the Christian community we too often resort to the wrong spirit of “myth busting” on the work of our brothers and sisters.

I predict that the debate over data will increase in the next decade. There are more of us doing research about Christianity and faith. The threshold to enter the “research” field is as low as ever (hello, survey monkey). And the world is changing very quickly, so we need insight to make sense of the change.

My suggestion: we need to work very hard at finding constructive, Jesus-like ways of debating data.

What’s your best idea how we might do this?


See also:  How Millennials Who Gave Up on Church are Redefining Faith and Re-engaging Community.