Barna Group president to speak Oct. 9

According to Barna Group research, more than half of teenagers who attend church in the U.S. stop attending after high school. David Kinnaman, author of You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving the Church…and Rethinking Faith and president of the Barna Group, will explore the reasons why at a Union College chapel service on Oct. 9 at 10:30 a.m.

Kinnaman first gained notoriety as a writer for co-authoring the best-selling book unChristian, which looks at Christianity from the perspective of nonreligious young adults and attempts to explain why negative impressions exist. “The first book he co-authored, unChristian, talks about what we as Christians ought to know about those who don’t claim Christianity,” said Rich Carlson, vice president for spiritual life at Union College. “The purpose of his new book is really to understand what’s happening to this next generation in the church and how to respond. It talks about those who left religion and spirituality, what their reasons are and what their reactions are to spirituality.”

As a college student, Kinnaman planned to enter the ministry but was dissuaded by his pastor-father. “My dad is someone I really admire,” he said in an interview with Abiah, an online Christian marketing company. “He discouraged me from going into ministry for the sake of following in his footsteps; he wanted me to discern God’s call for my own life.”

While still in college, Kinnaman read a book by George Barna, founder of the Barna Group, titledUser Friendly Churches and was inspired to see how research could be used to reexamine systems in place. He volunteered as an intern in 1995 and has since worked his way up to becoming the president and majority owner of the organization.

In his role of president, Kinnaman has been involved in designing and analyzing almost 500 projects for organizations such as the American Bible Society, Compassion International, the Salvation Army, World Vision and Zondervan. “The purpose of the Barna Group is to educate people about the broader culture,” he said in an interview with Building Church Leaders, a resource website for church leaders. “We also think that part of our goal is to help the culture understand the Christian community.”

Carlson invited Kinnaman to speak at Union after hearing him talk about his new book. “If we know what those who are leaving the church are asking for we might know how to respond better.”

Kinnaman’s presentation is free and open to the public. It will take place in the sanctuary of College View Seventh-day Adventist Church located at the corner of 48th and Prescott Streets, and will be followed by a question and answer session at 12:30 p.m. across the street at Union Market. “This is interesting information we should all have access to,” said Carlson. “I want to share it not only with our students, but with faculty, staff and the community.”