Barna Trends 2017

Barna Trends 2017

Barna Trends is an annual guide to the latest cultural, religious, and political trends, designed to help you navigate a complex and ever-changing world.

Barna Trends 2017 Was Created by:

Roxanne Stone Editor-in-Chief
Alyce Youngblood Editorial Manager
Chaz Russo Creative Director
Cory Maxwell-Coghlan Senior Writer
Pam Jacob Senior Research Director
Brenda Usery Production Manager
Douglas Brown Copy Editor
David Kinnaman President

Contributors & Writers:

Audrey Assad, George Barna, Jefferson Bethke, Christine Caine, Bonnie Camarda, Joyce Chiu, Andy Crouch, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Nicole Baker Fulgham, Brad Griffin, Scott Harrison, Aly Hawkins, Brooke Hempell, Kathy Khang, David Kim, Bryan Loritts, Gabe Lyons, Mark Matlock, Jedd Medefind, Carol Howard Merritt, Jake Mulder, Sarah Ngu, Kara Powell, Megan Pritchett, Sarah Joy Proppe, Gareth Russell, Preston Sprinkle, Jon Tyson, Tyler WiggStevenson, Jun Young

Designs By:

Annette Allen, Grant England, Michael Forrest, Amy Roberts, Chaz Russo, Rob Williams

The Barna Team Also Includes:

Cassie Bolton, Amy Brands, Matt Carobini, Joyce Chiu, Inga Dahlstedt, Bill Denzel, Aly Hawkins, Brooke Hempell, Traci Hochmuth, Rick Ifland, Pam Jacob, Elaine Klautzsch, Steve McBeth, Josh Pearce, Megan Pritchett, Gareth Russell, Caitlin Schuman, Todd Sorenson, Todd White

Barna Group is a visionary research and communications company headquartered in Ventura, California, with locations in New York, Atlanta and London. Widely considered to be a leading source for actionable insights on faith and culture, Barna Group has conducted more than one million interviews over the course of hundreds of studies. Since it was founded by George and Nancy Barna in 1984, Barna Group has carefully and strategically tracked the role of faith in America, developing one of the nation’s most comprehensive databases of spiritual indicators.

Barna Research
When you’re trying to determine the next step to take, you need a trusted guide. Barna can help provide a clear view of your key audiences and actionable insights through custom research, consulting, and resources. To find out more, visit barna.com/services.


Make Something


David Kinnaman Headshot

Knowledge is power. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase.

True power, however, comes not merely by having the right information, but by knowing what to do with it. In other words, discernment is power.

Take the book of Proverbs. Reading Solomon’s Twitterlike stream of ancient advice for living wisely is a great start, but his guidance becomes wisdom—not just information— only when it’s appropriately applied to our sustained efforts to live wisely. When we make something of the information.

The recent growth of the sharing economy provides a timely example of entrepreneurs and leaders making something of information. Companies like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and Airbnb observed a shift toward a hyperconnected culture that prioritizes community, choice, and mobility. They built networks and technology to meet those needs. They made something.

Barna Trends is a collection of the best research and insights our company has amassed over the last year or so. The goal of this compilation, consistent with Barna’s vision as a company, is to help spiritual influencers understand the times and know what to do. There is plenty of information here (we are, after all, data geeks). But you’ll also find in-depth analysis, personal stories, cultural critique, and ideas for living and leading wisely in the future—all offered to help you make something of the information.

In the pages of Barna Trends, you will encounter our team pursuing George Barna’s founding vision: to provide current and accurate information, in bite-sized pieces, to facilitate effective decision-making. Along the way you’ll read analysis and reflections on a range of topics from the talented Barna team and experts from various geographies and demographics.

We hope this project reveals opportunities in your context that you hadn’t noticed before. As you read, you might practice looking beyond the trends by asking yourself, So what? Or, more specifically, What does this mean for how I live and lead, in the place I live and lead? How can I make something of this information?

In our work we sometimes see an unfortunate phenomenon: spiritual influencers who want to understand the trends but bring narrow motivations to the process of discernment. Maybe they hope to keep their particular vision of the world alive, so they look for information that confirms their preconceptions and biases. Perhaps an entrepreneur looks for confirmation of his business model. A ministry leader scours the data only to bolster her pet project. Or a preacher looks for the right statistic to drive home his point, failing to wonder if the argument itself is true.

We hope you bring a broader set of goals to Barna Trends. As you digest the data, our prayer is that you use it to make something in and for the world where God has placed you.


Barna Trends 2017 How to Use this Book

How to Use This Book

Barna Trends 2017 Culture Life Faith IconsThe research presented in Barna Trends is packaged to suit a variety of reading experiences: personal interest, group discussion, sermon preparation, academic study, market research, and so on. To ensure readers can easily filter through and absorb the information, Barna Trends is divided into three broad sections: Culture, Life, and Faith. These sections speak to different, yet interwoven, parts of the reader’s world.

  • Culture covers mindsets and movements within the broader public, from the internet to the voting booth.
  • Life has a more personal lens, taking a closer look at our workplaces, homes, schools, and daily routines.
  • Faith focuses on the state of our spiritual lives, individually and collectively, in America and around the world.

Each of these topics is divided further into additional subcategories, shaped by the most relevant research Barna has to offer. We’ve sought Presenter’s Packs & Resources to share our findings in creative ways that best engage the reader, from feature-length reports and fast facts to eyecatching infographics and personal columns.

Some of the unique pieces you’ll read include:

Barna Takes—personal observations and predictions from the Barna team and trusted experts and friends.

At a Glance—concise, easily digestable blurbs and quotes to introduce you to the themes covered in each section.

America by the #s—quick snapshots of national trends.

Generations—special pages set aside to explore how generational perspectives and differences are revealed by research.

Broken down in this way, we hope that Barna Trends will inform and enrich you. Taken as a whole, we believe it paints a vivid picture of where we are— and where we are going.


Barna Trends 2017 Presenters Packs

Presenter’s Packs & Resources

Throughout the pages of Barna Trends, you will see the icon above. This mark indicates that the content you are reading is related to one of Barna’s presenter’s packs. Presenter’s Packs are digital downloads of professionally designed PowerPoint slides—including many of the graphics in this book—to help you grasp and share data with your colleagues, congregation, or community.

However, before you present these findings to others—in fact, before you even begin the first section— we want to make sure you’re equipped to understand the language of Barna research. We’ve bookended Barna Trends with a number of resources to aid your reading and learning experience.

We get a lot of questions like, Who are notional Christians? What does it mean to be “Bible-minded”? So, when were Millennials born? Which is why, right here at the beginning, we have provided a handful of key terms and definitions that are foundational to our reporting. Just keep scrolling down to look through this introductory Glossary.

At the end of the book, there is a breakdown of the Methodology used for the surveys and studies that make up Barna Trends. This will give you a bit more context for the data, including the types of audiences surveyed, how many people have been surveyed, and when surveys took place. You’ll also catch brief summaries of this kind of research information throughout the book; for example, you may see a note alongside a chart, infographic, or feature that looks something like this: n=1,000 | December 2016. In this particular case, it means the corresponding data is from the survey responses of 1,000 individuals in December of 2016. These notes will share important details about the timing, scope, and focus of each study. Unless otherwise stated, all percentages in Barna Trends refer to nationally representative samples of U.S. adults.

The concluding pages of Barna Trends also include an Index. We realize there is a lot of information to read and retain. Our goal is that it would be engaging and efficient, not confusing or overwhelming. Sometimes you may just want to learn more about a subject of immediate interest to you, or you might need to quickly refresh your memory on a particular statistic for a sermon or presentation. To help you better navigate the content, we’ve compiled a thorough list of some of the major themes and topics of Barna Trends.

Finally, if you’re looking for additional information, definitions, or commentary, visit barna.com or follow Barna Group on social media for updates about our current and upcoming projects.


Glossary – Theolographics

Self-identified Christians (sometimes called “all Christians” or just “Christians”) choose “Christian” from a list of religious affiliations.

Other faith choose a faith other than Christianity from a list of religious affiliations.

No faith choose “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “none” from a list of religious affiliations.

Born again Christians are self-identified Christians who have made a personal commitment to Jesus that is still important in their lives today and believe that, when they die, they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Non–born again (or notional) Christians are self-identified Christians who do not qualify as born again.

Practicing Christians are self-identified Christians who say their faith is very important in their lives and have attended a worship service within the past month.

  • Practicing Catholics are practicing Christians who describe themselves as Catholic.
  • Practicing mainline Protestants are practicing Christians who attend a church affiliated with a mainline Protestant denomination: American Baptist Churches USA, the Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church USA.
  • Practicing non-mainline Protestants are practicing Christians who attend a non-mainline church: charismatic/Pentecostal churches, churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, churches in the WesleyanHoliness tradition, and non-denominational churches, among others.

Non–practicing Christians are self-identified Christians who do not qualify as practicing.

Unchurched adults are those who have not attended a church service, other than a special event such as a wedding or funeral, in the past six weeks.

An orthodox view of God is the belief that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today.

Evangelicals meet nine criteria, which include having made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and believing that, when they die, they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. The seven other conditions include saying their faith is very important in their lives; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. Being classified as an evangelical is not dependent on church attendance or denominational affiliation, and respondents are not asked to describe themselves as “evangelical.”

Bible readers read the Bible at least three to four times a year outside of a worship service, Mass, or church event.

Bible-minded people believe the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches and have read the Scriptures within the past week.

Bible-engagement definitions are based on data collected for American Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” study. Barna created a four-part typology based on people’s view of and level of engagement with the Scriptures: Bible engaged, Bible friendly, Bible neutral, and Bible skeptic.

  • Bible engaged means that people have a “high” view of the Scriptures and read the Bible four or more times per week. They view the Bible as a) the actual or b) the inspired Word of God with no errors, or as c) the inspired Word of God with some errors. They must also read, use, or listen to the Bible four times a week or more to be considered Bible engaged.
  • Bible friendly people also have a “high” view of the Scriptures but read them less frequently. They are similar to the Bible engaged in their definitions of the Bible, but read it fewer than four times in a week.
  • Bible-neutral people have a lower, but not negative, view of the Bible. This person chooses neither of the top two definitions of the Bible (i.e., the “highest” views) nor the most skeptical statement. They tend to pick “middle options” and rarely or never read the Bible.
  • Bible skeptics believe the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men. The Bible skeptic selects the statement in the survey that reflects the “lowest” view of the Bible and rarely or never reads the Bible.


Glossary – Demographics


  • Teens were ages 13 to 17 when the research was performed.
  • Millennials were born between 1984 and 2002 (adults 18 and older only).
  • Gen-Xers were born between 1965 and 1983.
  • Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.
  • Elders were born prior to 1946.

Ethnicity is based on respondents’ self-descriptions of their ethnicity. Those who describe themselves as Hispanic plus another ethnicity are coded as Hispanic only. To ensure adequate sample sizes, Barna usually segments the population only by the three largest ethnic groups:

  • White/Caucasian
  • Black/African American
  • Hispanic/Latino


  • Northeast are residents of CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV, and Washington, DC.
  • Midwest are residents of IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, ND, NE, OH, SD, and WI.
  • South are residents of AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, and TX.
  • West are residents of AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, and WY.

Political Affiliation and Ideology

  • Democrats are registered as a Democrat at their current address.
  • Independents are registered as non-partisan at their current address.
  • Republicans are registered as a Republican at their current address.
  • Conservatives identify as “mostly conservative” when it comes to political issues.
  • Liberals identify as “mostly liberal” when it comes to political issues.
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