Churchgoing is a dynamic part of U.S. society. New research from Barna Group shows the ways in which Americans are maintaining—and renegotiating—their connections with the churches that they attend. The State of the Church 2020 study is a year-long examination of the spiritual and religious trends that define American life these days. To provide a meaningful analysis of the trends affecting pastors and Christian leaders, Barna’s researchers primarily explored two different categories of adults who have relatively recent experience in a Christian church—practicing Christians and churched adults.
This year, here at the start of a new decade—the 2020 decade!—Barna Group is returning to one of its foundational projects: the State of the Church. In this pivotal moment, our aim is to help Christian leaders gain a realistic-and-hopeful context and discern a faithful direction forward in our chaotic, disruptive culture. Or, as we’ll say a lot this year: to see clearly, lead confidently and engage effectively.
For decades, Barna has conducted research specifically on U.S. church leaders, uncovering what they, and others, believe about their role in the Church, as well as shedding light on their concerns and aspirations for both the local church and the Church in the U.S. In an effort to get a snapshot of the current concerns clergy may have as they enter a new decade, Barna conducted a poll to see how pastors and priests rank some of the issues facing the Church today. We’re kicking off our State of the Church 2020 project with this new study, along with a few findings and statistics from past research to help contextualize faith leaders’ most pressing questions and problems.
One of the key findings uncovered in this report show that nearly six in 10 highly engaged Christian parents say children’s programming is the primary reason they chose their current church (58%), showing that even though children may be small, they carry big weight when it comes to family decisions about where to worship.
In light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which takes places annually on the third Monday of January, we wanted to take a closer look at some key findings from the Where Do We Go from Here? report. One goal of this study was to identify some social causes that practicing Christians feel the Church at large or individual Christians are called to address—in other words, some key areas in which faith requires people to be hands-on ministers of mercy. Among examples of groups that could be considered in need of relief, Barna included people who face discrimination.
Barna spent much of last year researching and learning more about what we are calling the connected generation, the 18-35-year-olds—comprised of both Gen Z and Millennials—who are the future of our world. The Connected Generation report, conducted in partnership with World Vision, takes into account 15,369 interviews across 25 countries in 9 languages, allowing us both a broader and more-focused lens with which to understand young adults. With 2020 upon us and new year’s resolutions in full swing, we wanted to highlight the top accomplishments and goals of this generation.