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Three Spiritual Journeys of Millennials ^ | May 9, 2013 | Barna Group

Posted on 05/10/2013 10:31:10 AM PDT by daniel1212

May 9, 2013 – Much ink has been spilled in recent months over what social analysts are calling the “rise of the Nones.” The trend describes the seeming surge in people who claim no faith or say they are unaffiliated with any belief system.

The term rose to prominence when a Pew Research poll found that the number of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated rose to almost 20%—a nearly 5% leap in just the last five years. In the subsequent months, a Gallup poll showed similar numbers, and most recently, in March 2013, a poll from UC-Berkeley and Duke University similarly found religious affiliation in the U.S. is at its lowest point since it began to be tracked.

One common thread in every survey has been the significant number of Millennials among these “Nones.” The initial Pew survey found that nearly one-in-three members of the Millennial generation (32%) has no religious affiliation. But, who are these faithless twentysomethings? Where did they come from? Did they ever claim faith? And what is it about religion that has left them cold?

Recent surveys by the Barna Group have shed light on this trend by examining those 18- to 29-year-olds who used to identify themselves closely with faith and the church, but who have since begun to wrestle with that identity. In fact, between high school and turning 30, 43% of these once-active Millennials drop out of regular church attendance—that amounts to eight million twentysomethings who have, for various reasons, given up on church or Christianity.

Over half of Millennials with a Christian background (59%) have, at some point, dropped out of going to church after having gone regularly, and half have been significantly frustrated by their faith. Additionally, more than 50% of 18-29 year olds with a Christian background say they are less active in church compared to when they were 15.

In his book You Lost Me, David Kinnaman—president of the Barna Group—divides these once church-going Millennials into three spiritual journeys, which he termed “nomads,” “prodigals” and “exiles.” These groups are derived from the most common answers given to a variety of questions about religious belief and attitudes toward Christianity, churches and faith. Their answers may help church leaders and cultural analysts better understand why some Millennials are migrating from a firm faith to the side of the Nones.

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.

This trend may exist because more than four-in-ten American young adults with a Christian background (43%) believe going to church and having Christian friends is optional. One-quarter of that same group say faith and religion just aren’t that important to them. Additionally, nearly one-fourth of Millennials with a Christian background (23%) say they used to be very involved in their church, but they just don’t fit in anymore.

These are the people who have become the church’s nomads, young adults who see themselves as personally interested in God and religion, but not really in a formal or institutional expression of that faith. This is the group most likely to say they love Jesus but not the church—or that they are “spiritual but not religious.” They might appear to be wandering, but they would never claim to have lost their faith.

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.

More than one-fifth of Millennials with a Christian background (21%) say Christian beliefs don’t make sense to them. Many prodigals also admit to having had a negative experience in church or with Christians (20% of 18- to 29-year-olds with a Christian background say this). Finally, 19% of young adults who have a Christian background say their spiritual needs cannot be met by Christianity, another characteristic of prodigals.

This is the group that most often gets lumped in with the “Nones,” even though they might not be totally opposed to faith and spirituality. Rather, they’ve often had some kind of experience or realization that has made it impossible to reconcile their life with the Christian faith. Often, this is either tied to some kind of intellectual change or emotional injury, leading to a long-term dismissal of the Christian faith.

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.

This group is defined by wanting to figure out how to follow Jesus in the day-to-day aspects of their lives. In fact, nearly four out of ten Millennials with a Christian background (38%) say they desire to follow Jesus in a way that connects with the world they live in. One-third of twentysomethings with a Christian background say God is more at work outside the church than inside the church, and they want to be a part of that. Notice they didn’t say they were leaving the church, but they desire a connection to a broader expression of faith.

Exiles also search for ways to remain active participants in their surrounding culture without giving up their allegiance to Christ. Hence, nearly one-third of American 18- to 29-year-olds with a Christian background (32%) says they want to be a Christian without separating themselves from the world around them.

Bright Spots, Opportunities to Learn Despite the millions of twentysomethings who are conflicted with Christianity and churches, there is still some good news for the future of the American church. That’s because there are millions of Millennial Christians who are concerned for the future of their faith, have a strong desire to connect to the traditions of the church and feel a sense of excitement about church involvement. More than four out of ten Millennials with a Christian background (42%) say they are very concerned about their generation leaving the church, and a similar number (41%) say they desire “a more traditional faith, rather than a hip version of Christianity.” And nearly one-third of young adults with a Christian past say they are “more excited about church than any time in my life.”

While these engaged young adults are good reasons not to despair over the future of American Christianity, the trend of disengagement provides a sobering backdrop. The reality is that more than one-third of Millennials who grew up in the Christian faith say they went through a period when they felt like rejecting their parents’ faith. How they deal with such struggles often defines their spiritual trajectory. They can be the people reconnecting with a vital faith; they can be nomads, claiming vestiges of their previous faith while mostly rejecting the church that fostered that faith; they can be prodigals, leaving Christianity in the rearview mirror; or they can be exiles, struggling to connect their Christianity in a complex, accelerated culture...

TOPICS: Current Events; Evangelical Christian; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: churchmembership; demographics; nones; youth
See for graphics and more info.

Pew Research ( reports that,

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).3

However, a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted jointly with the PBS television program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, finds that many of the country’s 46 million unaffiliated adults are religious or spiritual in some way. Two-thirds of them say they believe in God (68%). More than half say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the earth (58%), while more than a third classify themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious” (37%), and one-in-five (21%) say they pray every day. In addition, most religiously unaffiliated Americans think that churches and other religious institutions benefit society by strengthening community bonds and aiding the poor.

With few exceptions, though, the unaffiliated say they are not looking for a religion that would be right for them. Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.

A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%). And young adults today are much more likely to be unaffiliated than previous generations were at a similar stage in their lives..

With their rising numbers, the religiously unaffiliated are an increasingly important segment of the electorate. In the 2008 presidential election, they voted as heavily for Barack Obama as white evangelical Protestants did for John McCain. More than six-in-ten religiously unaffiliated registered voters are Democrats (39%) or lean toward the Democratic Party (24%). They are about twice as likely to describe themselves as political liberals than as conservatives, and solid majorities support legal abortion (72%) and same-sex marriage (73%). In the last five years, the unaffiliated have risen from 17% to 24% of all registered voters who are Democrats or lean Democratic...

While the ranks of the unaffiliated have grown significantly over the past five years, the Protestant share of the population has shrunk. In 2007, 53% of adults in Pew Research Center surveys described themselves as Protestants. In surveys conducted in the first half of 2012, fewer than half of American adults say they are Protestant (48%). This marks the first time in Pew Research Center surveys that the Protestant share of the population has dipped significantly below 50%.

The decline is concentrated among white Protestants, both evangelical and mainline. Currently, 19% of U.S. adults identify themselves as white, born-again or evangelical Protestants, down slightly from 21% in 2007. And 15% of adults describe themselves as white Protestants but say they are not born-again or evangelical Christians, down from 18% in 2007.5 There has been no change in minority Protestants’ share of the population over the past five years..

The continued growth of the religiously unaffiliated is one of several indicators suggesting that the U.S. public gradually may be growing less religious. To be sure, the United States remains a highly religious country – particularly by comparison with other advanced industrial democracies – and some measures of religious commitment in America have held remarkably steady over the years. The number of Americans who currently say religion is very important in their lives (58%), for instance, is little changed since 2007 (61%) and is far higher than in Britain (17%), France (13%), Germany (21%) or Spain (22%).8 And over the longer term, Pew Research surveys find no change in the percentage of Americans who say that prayer is an important part of their daily life; it is 76% in 2012, the same as it was 25 years ago, in 1987.

But on some other key measures, there is evidence of a gradual decline in religious commitment. In 2003, for instance, 25% of U.S. adults indicated they seldom or never attend religious services. By 2012, that number had ticked up 4 points, to 29%.

Similarly, the percentage of Americans who say they never doubt the existence of God has fallen modestly but noticeably over the past 25 years. In 1987, 88% of adults said they never doubt the existence of God. As of 2012, this figure was down 8 percentage points to 80%.

In addition, the percentage of Americans who say the Bible should be taken literally has fallen in Gallup polls from an average of about 38% of the public in the late 1970s and early 1980s to an average of 31% since.9 And based on analysis of GSS data, Mark Chaves of Duke University has found that Americans born in recent decades are much less likely than their elders to report having attended religious services weekly at age 12...

Nor are the ranks of the unaffiliated predominantly composed of practitioners of New Age spirituality or alternative forms of religion. Generally speaking, the unaffiliated are no more likely than members of the public as a whole to have such beliefs and practices..

Social and Political Views

The religiously unaffiliated are heavily Democratic in their partisanship and liberal in their political ideology. More than six-in-ten describe themselves as Democrats or say they lean toward the Democratic Party (compared with 48% of all registered voters). And there are roughly twice as many self-described liberals (38%) as conservatives (20%) among the religiously unaffiliated. Among voters overall, this balance is reversed.

The liberalism of the unaffiliated extends to social issues, though not necessarily to attitudes about the size of government. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of religiously unaffiliated Americans say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared with 53% of the public overall. And 73% of the religiously unaffiliated express support for same-sex marriage, compared with 48% of the public at large....

In recent elections, the religiously unaffiliated have become one of the most reliably Democratic segments of the electorate.

The religiously unaffiliated constitute a growing share of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters. In 2007, there were about as many religiously unaffiliated Democratic and Democratic- leaning registered voters as white mainline and white Catholic Democratic voters...

Today, the religiously unaffiliated are clearly more numerous than any of these groups within the Democratic coalition (24% unaffiliated, 16% black Protestant, 14% white mainline Protestant, 13% white Catholic). By contrast, Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters are only slightly more likely to be religiously unaffiliated today than they were in 2007 (11% vs. 9%). ------------

Micl. other data:

24% of current “Nones” (not identifying with any religion) and 35% of 1st generation or "new" Nones) identified themselves being Catholic at age 12, 11% identified themselves as "Christian," 7% as Baptist, and 3% as Protestant. 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS);

68% of those raised Roman Catholic still are Catholic (higher than the retention rates of individual Protestant denoms, but less than Jews at 76%). 15% are now Protestant (9% evangelical); 14% are unaffiliated. Pew forum, Faith in Flux (April 27, 2009)

80% of adults who were raised Protestant are still Protestant, but (analysis shows) 25% no longer self-identify with the Protestant denomination in which they were raised. ^

Latinos make up about 40 percent of all U.S. Catholics; 70 percent of Latinos are Catholic; 23 percent of Latinos are Protestant or “other Christian.”

In 2007, 68% of Latinos identified as Catholics, two-thirds being immigrants. 42% did not graduate from high school. 46% have a household income of less than $30,000 per year - lower than that of other religious traditions. The Latino electorate was overwhelmingly Catholic (63%), and 70% of all Latino eligible voters who identified as Democrats were Catholics. ^

Among Catholics under the age of 30, 47% are white, and 45% are Latino. In contrast, among Catholics over the age of 65, 82% are white (Pew Forum 2007, reported in

Latino Catholics made up 57% of the electorate in 2012, and 71% are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 21% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. Among Latino evangelical voters, about half are Democrats or lean Democratic, while about a third are Republicans or lean toward the Republican Party.

70% of Latino registered voters in 2012 identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 22% identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. 81 percent of Latinos with no religious affiliation were Democrats or Democratic leaning.

47% of white Catholics identified with or leaned toward the Democratic Party, while 46% supported the GOP in the mid-September [2012] poll [up from 41% in 2008], while 72% of white evangelicals identified with the GOP. ^

77 percent of Black Protestants said they vote Democratic, whether they attended weekly services or not. 2008 The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

For those in black Catholic churches, political affiliation or leaning in 2007 was 17%/74% Republican/Democrat, and 11%/76% for black evangelical churches. Opposition to homosexuality 37% by black Catholics and 58% by black evangelicals. Opposition to abortion was 35% by black Catholics and 53% by black evangelicals. 66% of black evangelicals and 36% of black Catholics say they attend services at least weekly.

22% of Asian-Americans are Protestants and 19% are Catholic (while 26% are unaffiliated, with 52% of Chinese being so). .


47% of Asian-American Protestants are or lean toward the Republican party, versus 36% Democrat. Asian-American evangelicals were at 56%/28%. Asian-American Catholics were at 42%/41% (Hindu Asian-Americans 9%/72% Republican/Democrat). ^

2002 Statistics compiled by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs reported that 71 percent of the U.S. Catholic population growth since 1960 was due to Hispanics. The statistics are taken from U.S. Census reports and recent surveys of Hispanics.

1 posted on 05/10/2013 10:31:10 AM PDT by daniel1212
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To: daniel1212; metmom; boatbums; caww; presently no screen name; smvoice; HarleyD; ...

More statistics

2 posted on 05/10/2013 10:32:37 AM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: daniel1212

Many of us have experienced a Prodigal Son dynamic. Dropping out of going to church in our 20’s, only to return later with greater conviction when it began to register on us just how important those things are to life.

3 posted on 05/10/2013 10:41:25 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: daniel1212

I clicked on this thread thinking it was about the three Christian beliefs on the millennial of Rev. 20, Premillennial, Amillennial, and Postmillennial. Nope. Good stuff anyway.

4 posted on 05/10/2013 11:33:48 AM PDT by sasportas
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To: sasportas
I clicked on this thread thinking it was about the three Christian beliefs on the millennial of Rev. 20, Premillennial, Amillennial, and Postmillennial. Nope. Good stuff anyway.

It is not the tittle i would have preferred, but there is a lot of data relative to who will be on each side in Rv. 20. May we and more always trust in Jesus and do what HE pleases!

5 posted on 05/10/2013 11:42:31 AM PDT by daniel1212 (Come to the Lord Jesus as a contrite damned+destitute sinner, trust Him to save you, then live 4 Him)
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To: daniel1212
And what is it about religion that has left them cold?

Probably the *religion* part.

A genuine relationship with Christ will not leave someone cold.

6 posted on 05/10/2013 11:59:31 AM PDT by metmom (For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore & do not submit again to a yoke of slavery)
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To: daniel1212

What we need are more FOXHOLES!

7 posted on 05/10/2013 12:36:04 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: metmom

Many do not realize that marrying Jesus (RACHEL), they ALSO get LEAH (the church).

Genesis 29

8 posted on 05/10/2013 1:00:19 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: daniel1212

I’m not surprised at those statistics. When one begins to realize that what is being taught in most of the organized religions these days is just not scriptural they begin to have doubts about that “church”. Unless they are being drawn by God deeper into the scriptures they drift away.

9 posted on 05/10/2013 6:25:07 PM PDT by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
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