On The Homelessness of Millennial Spirituality

The Barna Group, which studies religion and society, has released some devastating statistics about young people and their "Three Spiritual Journeys" away from the Church. The study divides these attitudes towards leaving the Church into three groups: Nomads, Prodigals, and Exiles. This has to be eye-opening about why we need evangelization. The Barna Group president is David Kinnemann, who authored this great book: You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church... and Rethinking Faith.

The first group Barna studied was the Nomads.

The most common spiritual journey is that of the nomads. This group is comprised of 18- to 29-year-olds with a Christian background who walk away from church engagement but still consider themselves Christians. A person in this group typically has trouble identifying with a church or a particular “brand” of Christianity, but would consider themselves, broadly, a Christian.

The second group are the Prodigals

Prodigals, on the other hand, are those who have lost their faith. This group is made up of young adults who used to claim a personal faith, but no longer claim any Christian belief. In many of their answers in Barna Group surveys, they describe themselves as fairly certain they won’t ever return to the Christian faith.

Finally, the third group are the Exiles.

The final category of Millennials who struggle with the Christian faith can be termed “exiles.” This group has a tough time finding a place in a church setting, but has chosen to remain within an institutional church context. They feel “lost” somewhere between their commitments to church and their desire to stay connected with the world around them. These young adults with a Christian background struggle to connect their faith or church with their everyday lives, and yet they continue in their Christian faith despite these headwinds. More than one-fifth of Millennials with a Christian past (21%) say they remain Christian and continue to attend a church, but they find that church to be a difficult place for them to live out their faith.