Barna Group's President, David Kinnaman, and Director of Insights, Mark Matlock, discuss strategies for creating resilient disciples in the third installment of their five part video series: "Five Essential Conversations about Ministry to the Next Generation."
In the video, Kinnaman and Matlock reference their book, "Faith for Exiles," which stated that only 10 percent of 18 to 29 year olds are "resilient disciples." Resilient disciples are defined in the book as members of the church who regularly attend service, firmly believe in the Bible's authority, wish to transform broader society through faith, and are personally committed to Jesus. While Kinnaman and Matlock are not worried about these disciples' faith through the pandemic, they do fear for the larger 38 percent of "habitual churchgoers."
According to "Faith for Exiles," habitual churchgoers are those that attend church at least once in the past month and describe themselves as Christian but do not have the core beliefs that are strongly present in resilient disciples. As Matlock stated in the video, these disciples "have their hand on the door," and if they are not properly attended to, they could leave the church during the stressors brought on by the pandemic and daily life.
Matlock and Kinnaman propose that right now is the time for pastors to help Millennials and Gen Z realize how the solitude of quarantine can be utilized to deepen their connection and belief in Jesus. Matlock explains in the video that the key is to "teach them how to develop rhythms in their life where they're spending time in the Word, where they're engaging with other people, where they're serving... [Because] it's in serving that you really see the person of Jesus show up."
He continued that Millennial and Gen Z habitual churchgoers need to see that "rather than seeing silence or solitude as something that was dumped on them during the pandemic, how do they leverage that to grow in their spiritual strength and power just as Jesus did?"
These are the questions Barna's two executives believe are necessary for ministry leaders to be asking themselves and their at risk demographics. It is now more than ever during this pandemic, that pastors need to work with their habitual churchgoers to seek solutions through developing the proper rhythms.