About the Project

Barna has long been an authority on the cultural pressures that shape the faith journeys of North American teens and young adults. Through interviews with nearly 100,000 young people covering every aspect of their lives, Barna has listened to stories and experiences across the religious spectrum—from devoted Christ followers to ex-Christians, from passionate adherents to other faiths to those for whom religion is an artifact of a bygone era. This research has tracked Millennials’ entrance into adulthood, career and family—and, among a significant proportion, a simultaneous departure from religion. Similar trends emerge now among the leading edge of Gen Z, who, so far, are even less inclined toward religion than their Millennial peers. The goal of this particular study was to see whether those same trends were true across the world and in different cultural contexts, as well as to explore this generation’s well-being—spiritually, professionally, relationally. 

For this first-of-its-kind study, Barna combined its expertise with the global reach of the research partner, World Vision. As a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization, World Vision has long worked with young adults around the world to overcome poverty and injustice. Through relationships with thousands of churches and staff in nearly 100 countries, their investment in this initiative extended to early input on the study formation, coordination of thought leaders and local contextualization. In more ways than one, this project represents a multicultural, multi-generational effort as people from around the globe have come together to support and inform this project and to ask big questions of a generation who are full of questions themselves. 

“To be effective leaders—of churches, businesses, cultural organizations, government agencies, development NGOs, political movements, whatever—we must slow down and listen to a generation that is too often talked at and talked about. We must stop ignoring or dismissing or rolling our eyes at teens, twentysomethings and thirtysomethings who are coming into their own. They are desperately in need of a wise, compassionate, listening ear—and we are desperately in need of their partnership as we look to the Church’s future.”

—David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group and co-author / author of UnChristian, You Lost Me, Good Faith and Faith for Exiles

“Through this important and comprehensive study, we found young adults are truly globally minded with a genuine desire to make a difference. But The Connected Generation also reveals a need to rethink the way we and churches connect with and mobilise young adults. Our prayer is that this study will help church leaders understand, disciple and ultimately activate this connected generation to become all that God created them to be. In making a lasting impact on these young adults, we make a lasting impact on the world.”

—Andrew Morley, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Vision International