The Barna Group has just published a study that we all need to pay attention to. I first heard about this research from Brian McLaren a year and a half ago and it helped me focus the shaping of Jacob’s Well. This study of 16-29 year olds shows how this generation, more than any preceeding generation is not only uninvolved and uninterested in Christianity, but actually views Christianity and the church as a negative. The subtleties are important, but the overall trend cannot be ignored.
A good question (and I’d like to see some conversation around this) is whether it is even worth trying to convince the “given up” (a Jacob’s Well term) generations that our language, structures and traditions need to be picked up, or is it time to invent new modes of being church and move on? It is a little hard to ignore the comparison to the controversy among the Apostles (Acts 15) over whether Gentiles should have to be circumcised or not… whether nonChristians should have to learn to like organ music (an ironic comparison, sorry), whether new believers with new questions of God should have to confess faith in ancient creeds that were answers to ancient questions…
You can read a great summary of this in the Sept 24 The Barna Report. If you are a church learner, subscribe to this!
Kinnaman’s book UnChristian is the full report of the study. I’ll blog a review when I finish it.