The coronavirus pandemic could accelerate a loss of faith among the next generation unless churches find ways to better disciple young churchgoers and keep them connected, senior researchers at the Barna Group say.
David Kinnaman, president of the California-based evangelical Christian polling firm and Mark Matlock, director of insights, cited earlier research highlighting how a majority of young people who grew up in the church will either walk away from their faith or from the church when they become young adults, during a recent discussion about the impact of the pandemic on Christians aged 18-29.
And both believe the pandemic will make this crisis of faith even worse unless steps are taken to stanch its impact.
“I think it will. I actually think we’re going to see an increasing number of people who’ve lost connectedness with their faith community, with their usual rhythms and practices. We’re going to actually see an increasing number in the years to come and the long-term impact is even more fallout from that,” Kinnaman said.
“We know that 22% of young people today are what we call ‘prodigals.’ They lost their faith entirely. That number grew by double from 11% 10 years ago. So what it will look like in 10 years is hard to know, but we think it’s going to actually accelerate that problem,” the Barna Group president explained.
When asked about what he was seeing and hearing from churches that are trying to respond to the problem, Matlock highlighted research showing that among adults 18-29 who were raised Christian, only 10% of them are considered ideal or ‘resilient’ disciples. Some 22% are no longer Christian and 30% are classified as ‘nomads’ because they still believe in God but aren’t connected to a church. Another 38% are considered ‘habitual churchgoers’ but have loose ties to God.
“It’s important to realize about that 22% is that they just aren’t coming to church anymore. They’ve said I no longer identify as a Christian, which is pretty serious,” Matlock said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair