A few years ago, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons penned an insightful book entitled unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why it Matters. The book was a groundbreaking study on adults who graduated high school after the beginning of the new Millennium, often either called Millennials or Mosaics by generational theorists. Specifically, unChristian focused on the large amount of unchurched young adults and the barriers that kept them from being receptive to the church.
Now, in the next book in the series titled You Lost Me, Kinnaman takes the next step in his study of these emerging adults. You Lost Me explores how Christian young adults are becoming disaffected with the church. Specifically, Kinnaman discusses the reasons Mosaics have for distancing themselves from worshipping congregations, the ways that they have of taking space from involvement in traditional church organizations, and ideas to reach this generation that is leaving the church en masse. You Lost Me challenges believers to take time to understand the millennial generation and find ways to reach them with the truth and the grace of God.
The first part of this book discusses who the “church dropouts” are, and why they are dropping out. Kinnaman points out that youth involvement in churches remains relatively strong, but that many people are leaving home after high school and never returning to the church. He correctly notes that this has happened in generations past as well, but believes that this generation does not have the foundation of family and cultural structures that will eventually lead them back into the fellowship of a worshipping Christian community.
You Lost Me categorized dropouts into three broad categories: exiles (actively Christian but have problems with church institutions), dropouts (people who love Jesus, but don’t make space in their lives for church), and prodigals (young adults who have made a conscious commitment to reject the faith they were raised in). Kinnaman makes a point that not everyone leaves churches for the same reason, that we need to remember that “every story matters,” and that we should not be eager to lump all people disaffected by institutional Christianity together.
The second third of the book shares some issues that nudge people out of the doors of the church. Almost all of the issues that the author describes tend to revolve around an antipathy toward church communities claiming any sort of moral, personal or institutional authority.
The final part of You Lost Me offers some helpful nuts and bolts ideas for reaching out to young adults in a way that makes sense to them, and draws them toward faith in Christ instead of away from it. These include outreach ideas, as well as ways to make a church's offering more sensitive to the issues and concerns of "de-churched" young adults. There is a smattering of ideas. Nobody will find every idea helpful in their setting, but almost anyone will find some of the hints on reaching young adults helpful.
I was a little concerned, as I am with all books coming out of the Barna Group, that perhaps the book and the study too easily categorized people into groups and gave those people labels. This, in my opinion, can defeat the purpose of challenging everyone to get to know each individual’s story.
All in all, I thought that this book offered poignant analysis. Much of it, if taken seriously, will be helpful for congregations that are eager to reach out to younger believers and keep them as a part of their church family. For pastors and church leaders willing to move their congregation toward reaching emerging generations, some of the statistics and insights in the book will be helpful in convincing their congregation to make some intelligent, healthy changes in what their churches do and how they function. And as a person in the age group that this book describes, I can see and hear examples of friends that mirror some of the descriptions in this book as well. You Lost Me is a book I will return to more than once as I attempt to explain people my age to family and fellow church members that just do not understand them. – Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Millions of young Christians are disconnecting from church as they transition into adulthood. They're real people, not just statistics. And each one has a story to tell.
Now the bestselling coauthor of unChristian reveals the long-awaited results of a new nationwide study of 18- to 29-year-olds with a Christian background. Discover why so many are disengaging from the faith community, renew your hope for how God is at work in the next generation--and find out how you can join in.
Based on new research conducted by the Barna Group, You Lost Me exposes ways the Christian community has failed to equip young adults to live "in but not of" the world--to follow Christ in the midst of profound cultural change. This wide-ranging study debunks persistent myths about young dropouts and examines the likely consequences for young adults and for the church if we maintain the status quo.
The faith journeys of the next generation are a challenge to the established church, but they can also be a source of hope for the community of faith. Kinnaman, with the help of contributors from across the Christian spectrum, offers ideas for pastors, youth leaders, parents, and educators to pass on a vibrant, lasting faith, and ideas for young adults to find themselves in wholehearted pursuit of Christ.