Barna Study Shows Pastors of Local Churches Worry Most About Reaching the Younger Generations

Thousands of young adults attend Passion 2020 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 1, 2020. | Passion/Austin Rapp

Just over a week after leaders of a Minnesota church were accused of trying to get rid of older adult members from one of their campuses in an effort to attract a younger crowd, a new study from Barna suggests reaching the next generation is one of the biggest problems pastors in local churches worry about today.

When presented with a list of possible challenges facing their church as part of Barna’s State of the Church 2020 project announced earlier this month, just over half of Protestant pastors, 51%, said “reaching a younger audience” is a major issue for their ministry.

Some 34% of pastors ranked the issue as a top three concern for their church while 12% said it was their No. 1 concern.

The church leaders also noted “declining or inconsistent outreach and evangelism” as a major issue which some 50% of respondents agreed is a problem they are grappling with.

More than one-third of pastors say “declining or inconsistent volunteering” is an issue facing their ministry today, with about one-quarter saying it’s one of their top three problems. Similar proportions also expressed worry in regard to “stagnating spiritual growth.”

Some 23% of pastors also cited “lack of leadership training and development” as a major concern facing their church today. Previous studies by Barna showed that some 85% of pastors today are older than 40 and nearly 70% of pastors agree that “it is becoming harder to find mature young Christians who want to become pastors.”

Overall, Barna also found that three-quarters of Catholic priests agree that “reaching a younger audience” is a major issue facing their parish today with nearly half ranking it as their top concern.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair