CNLP 288: David Kinnaman Busts Cultural Myths Too Many Leaders Still Believe, and Shares Surprisingly Good News About the Faith of Some Millennials and Gen Z.

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David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Group, busts some persistent myths about people and culture too many leaders still believe. He also shares findings from his surveys of over 100,000 young adults, what they believe, what bothers them, and how a surprising number still have strong faith, despite what you read about the next generation. Plus, David and Carey test some assumptions about where culture is headed in the future.

Welcome to Episode 288 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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David Kinnaman | FacebookInstagram | Twitter

Barna Group | Faith for Exiles

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David has a new book out titled Faith For Exiles. Check it out here!

You can also check out his other books here:


You Lost Me

Some Thoughts on the Wave of Deconversions and The State of Preaching Today

Phase Orange Curriculum for parents.

Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme

3 Insights from David

1. The Next Generation Doubts the Sincerity of the Church and Youth Staff

Young people are becoming more and more skeptical of youth pastors and volunteers. They have a hard time believing that someone would take an interest in them if they weren’t paid to do it.

When interviewing a young woman in one of his focus groups, David was asking about the relationships she built with members of her church, and when he asked about the youth pastor, she said they didn’t have a good relationship because “He was paid to be my friend.” Ouch.

This is a common mindset for much of the next generation. One solution to this is putting more of our time and focus on developing the students we do have to become even better disciple-makers themselves. They will be more likely to gain the trust of other people their age.

2. As Pastors, We Need to Study How our People Learn

Pastors need to be asking the question “How are people in our churches learning and what can we do to better meet those needs?” For the men and women who are in youth ministry or who are paying or supporting youth ministry, you can’t do 30 minutes of content a week and expect for young people to have a strong, lasting faith. We need to be finding more ways to interact and add value to the young people we are working with.

So as a church we need to ask ourselves “What can we do through YouTube videos? What could we do through classes that we could offer? What could we do through internships or mission trips?” You don’t even have to produce all the content yourself, there are plenty of resources online that you can curate for your people to use. Just find whatever method your people naturally choose to learn and meet them there.

3. We Should be Encouraged by the 10% of Young Christians that are “Resilient Disciples”

When we look at the statistics recording the role of Christianity in the next generation, things look pretty grim. Fewer and fewer young people seem to be a regular part of the body of Christ. There are a lot of factors contributing to this, and although it may feel hopeless, David argues that there is a ray of hope in the next generation of disciples.

Yes, there are young people walking away at unprecedented rates, but when you look a little bit deeper, you see that 10% of the kids who grew up in church actually have a resilient, admirable, strong, growing faith that we can build the future of The Church on. In his research, David is finding that 10% of young people are “resilient” like Daniel, the more pressure you put on them the stronger their faith seems to get. There is real evidence that the Gospel is having a massively positive effect on their lives and this should give us hope for the next generation.

Quotes from Episode 288

47% of millennial practicing Christians said they thought it was wrong to evangelize, even though 90 something percent said they thought that the best thing a person could do would be to become a Christian. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet Escape is our primary drug of choice today. The sheer hours that we spend streaming television, playing video games, escaping the reality of our lives is a way that we drown out the pain. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet 38% of millennials say they fact check sermons as the pastor is speaking. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet God doesn't need a majority of people to do His work. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet Without a theology of exile, we won't be able to raise resilient young people. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet Our simplistic explanations or cute little pet phrases just aren't cutting it anymore. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet Technology today is our current tower of Babel. @davidkinnaman Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 288

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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Next Episode: Tim Lucas

Tim Lucas left the church at age 14, and never expected to be back…let alone plant a church. But as a Bible study Tim and his wife led grew into a church plant, Liquid Church New Jersey was born. Tim not only shares the fascinating story of Liquid—including the strategy he used to both share the Gospel and get past the cynicism of young adults living near NY—he also talks about the rhythms he embraced running a church of 5000 with 7 locations after he had a brush with burnout.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 289.

Increase Giving and Fully Fund Your Mission—Regardless of Where You're at Now.

When it comes to money conversations with your church, my guess is that you want the outcome (margin in your budget and a generous congregation) without the process (having to raise funds and talk about it).

The Art of Building a Generous Congregation is a proven method for increasing giving, creating a culture of generosity, and building financial margin at your church... without the stress and awkwardness.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable talking about money right now.
Even if you’ve never seen your congregation fully engage with that kind of conversation.
Even if you’ve tried other methods without success.

And yes, especially, if you could make a bigger difference by increasing your budget by 20%, 30%, or even 40%.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.