You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church... and Rethinking Faith  -     By: David Kinnaman
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You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church... and Rethinking Faith

Baker Books / 2011 / Hardcover

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David Kinnaman's latest book attempts to answer one crucial question: Is the church losing the next generation?

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.

  • "I knew from church that I couldn't believe in both science and God, so that was it. I didn't believe in God anymore."--Mike
  • "When I write a song that's not used in a way that every Christian agrees on, I get hammered. What am I supposed to be using my talents for?"--Sam
  • "I felt like I had been punched in the stomach . . . I remember thinking on the way home, My non-Christian friends would never do that to me."--Sarah
  • "It just feels like the church's teaching on sexuality is behind the times."--Dennis

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.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0801013143
ISBN-13: 9780801013140
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Close to 60 percent of young people who went to church as teens drop out after high school. Now the bestselling author of unChristian trains his researcher's eye on these young believers. Where Kinnaman's first book unChristian showed the world what outsiders aged 16-29 think of Christianity, You Lost Me shows why younger Christians aged 16-29 are leaving the church and rethinking their faith.

Based on new research, You Lost Me shows pastors, church leaders, and parents how we have failed to equip young people to live "in but not of" the world and how this has serious long-term consequences. More importantly, Kinnaman offers ideas on how to help young people develop and maintain a vibrant faith that they embrace over a lifetime.

Author Bio

David Kinnaman is the coauthor of the bestselling unChristian and is the president of The Barna Group, which provides research and resources that facilitate spiritual transformation in people's lives. Since joining Barna in 1995, David has designed and analyzed nearly five hundred studies for a variety of churches, nonprofits, and corporations. He and George Barna write a free research report published online at David and his wife, Jill, have three children and live in California.

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,

Publisher's Weekly

In this insightful and engaging work, Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, presents findings from interviews with young adults, aged 18 through 29, who have left Christianity. Focusing on this age group, typically the least religious demographic, Kinnaman investigates what young adults say about their religiosity or lack of it, in order to help churches retain young adult membership. Kinnaman’s research is thorough and his results are fascinating; after examining traits of what he calls the “Mosaic Generation,” he classifies religiously inactive young adults into three types—nomads, prodigals, and exiles—and then lists, in detail, the most common reasons for young adults to lapse in their religious exclusivity. Kinnaman is unafraid to criticize in the name of reform, and he bolsters his research arguments with concrete suggestions for improvement. This practical problem-solving approach, along with his repeated assertion that “every story matters” and his occasional touches of the personal--whether his own opinions and sympathies or excerpts from interviews--make the work a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of Christianity. (Oct.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

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  1. Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Learn How To Not Lose People
    February 18, 2013
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    "You Lost Me" is a follow-up to Kinnaman and Lyon's "unChristian" book published several years ago. Though both published by Baker, they were based upon research done through the Barna Group. YLM was written solely by Kinnaman (with help from Aly Hawkins) and continues with exploring the idea that many young Christians grow frustrated with their faith and end up leaving it/church communities behind.

    unChristian addressed six widely held negative perceptions about Christianity as held by young Christians and non-believers. YLM explores another 6 negative perceptions and these tend to be the reasons why people leave faith: church is too overprotective, shallow, anti-science, repressive, exclusive and leaves no room for doubt. These reasons outlined are all based upon hundreds of interviews and Kinnaman repeatedly makes the point that each of these individual stories are important and matter. Obviously what negatively affects one person will be different than another, but patterns emerged.

    Kinnaman also explores the culture of youth and how the idea of access, alienation and authority are a huge part of growing up in America today. He also presents three broad categories of those who leave behind their faith as nomads, exiles and prodigals and uses different celebrities to explain these archetypes.

    I know that unChristian opened up a lot of people's eyes to problems within the American Church and YLM continues with this trend. One need not read the first book to fully appreciate YLM, but I would certainly recommend it. Like it's predecessor, YLM is well documented, interlaced with personal reflections as well as others stories who highlight their points and contains helpful advice by other Christians (YLM has some former Christian voices as well) for how to better strengthen faith. I appreciated that the follow-up was a little more ecumenical in it's outlook and seemed to use more Catholic stories and language in the writing. I would highly recommend this book to parents as well as youth and church leaders, as it helps to explain youth culture and ways that much of traditional church ethos drives people away. I really appreciate the work of Barna and look forward to how their research will help the church for years to come.
  2. Caldwell, Idaho
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Helpful book on how to reach young adults
    December 5, 2011
    Dave Jenkins
    Caldwell, Idaho
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Real people and their stories matter. Young Christian adults are facing a rapidly changing world where everything they know is being flipped upside down every day as they encounter pressure from their peers to abandon the Christian faith. In addition to this peer-pressure many young Christian adults feel as if the Church has failed to help them to live "in but not of the world". In You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church And Rethinking Faith David Kinnaman makes the case from statistics he gathered from studying young adults since 2003, and examining Scripture that the Church needs to improve in how it equips young adults to live Christian lives.

    You Lost Me takes a comphrensive look at nearly every facet of young adult's lives from their perceptions of how the Church views science, is repressive, exclusive, and doesn't allow doubt and more. The book doesn't stop at just giving statistical evidence but moves into telling the stories of young men and women whose stories really matter. Unlike many books that are research oriented You Lost Me is written in such a way as to help the local church in its mission of making disciples of young adults.

    The one concern that I have about this book is that the author takes an ecumenical approach to his research by arguing "whether we come from a Catholic, evangelical, mainline, or Orthodox tradition, we need to help the next generation of Christ-followers deal well with cultural accommodation; we need to help them live in-but-not-of lives (Kinnaman, 15). The one thing that would have strengthened this book would have been a discussion on how young adults view the Gospel and how to help live Gospel-centered lives in the context of the local church.

    You Lost Me seeks to examine the next generation's cultural context and examines the question, "How can we follow Jesus-and help young people faithfully follow Jesus-in a dramatically different culture?" Even with the concern over the ecumenical approach of the author You Lost Me is a very helpful book that will help Pastors to understand how to better minister and equip young adults to walk with God in all of life. The author is spot on that the church has traditionally not done a good job at helping creative types (artists, writers, etc) and those scientifically oriented to walk with God in areas they feel called to.

    The one thing I appreciated the most about You Lost Me is the emphasize on not only "how" we can rectify the problem but the author examining through the lens of nomads, prodigals and exiles what each group thinks about the Church. Many young adults are leaving the Church because they have been hurt by the Church or they have had a bad experience and no longer see the relevancy of the Gospel for their lives. As sad as many of these stories are the Church should not give up nor should it compromise. The Gospel is the power of God to transform people's lives by transferring them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Reading books like You Lost Me always interest me. I love learning more about how to reach people with the Gospel. Overall reading You Lost Me has been very educational and given me a lot to think about especially when I talk to young adults. I recommend every Christian read You Lost Me but especially Pastors and ministry leaders in order to get a better handle on what young adults think about the church.

    The faith journeys of the next challenge are a challenge to the established Church, but they can also be a source of hope for the Church. I encourage you to read You Lost Me in order to be equipped to think through how to reach young adults. I believe as you read this book you will be challenged, convicted and also encouraged as you read the real stories of young adults and how to reach them. Read You Lost Me, but so do prayerfully, thoughtfully and reflectively for in doing so you will be further equipped to minister in whatever context you are in to the young adults around you.

    Title: You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church And Rethinking Faith

    Author: David Kinnaman

    Publisher: Baker Books (2011)

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the Baker Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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