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Five Traits of Young People who Stick with the Faith

What does it take to raise children who will continue in the faith as adults? A new study from the Barna Group set out to study what they call “resilient disciples,” that is, 18-29-year olds who attend church regularly, trust in the Bible, are personally committed to Jesus, and with a desire to influence broader society.

They found that “resilient disciples” make up only 10% of young people who grew up Christian. Another 38% attend church regularly, but do not meet core beliefs and behaviors associated with being an engaged disciple. 30% identify as Christian, but no longer attend church, and 22% have left the faith altogether.

Here are the five traits of a “resilient disciple”:

1. They experience intimacy with Jesus

2. They practice cultural discernment

3. They have meaningful spiritual relationships

4. They engage in counter-cultural mission

5. They have a sense of calling in their life and work


David Kinnaman & Mark Matlock, “Faith for Exiles: 5 Ways for a New Generation to Follow Jesus in Digital Babylon” (Baker Books, 2019), p. 208-209; Barna Group, “Church Dropouts Have Risen to 65% - But What About Those Who Stay? Barna.com (2019)

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