The Connected Generation: UK

The Connected Generation: UK

A Barna Report Produced in Partnership with World Vision


By Tim Pilkington, World Vision UK, Chief Executive

Millennials and their Gen Z counterparts may be the most talked about and talked to of all generations – but how often are they really listened to and heard? With interviews of more than 15,000 young adults across 25 countries, this project represents the most significant research into emerging generations from every corner of the world and the role of faith in their lives. Through it, we are truly able to listen, and listen widely.

This research reveals a generation that is globally minded and connected like never before, yet hungers for more authentic community and relationships. They long to make a difference, especially on global issues affecting the world’s vulnerable, yet are often anxious and pessimistic about their own future. We also find a generation that is surprisingly open to spirituality, but unsure of the Christian Church’s relevance to society or their own daily lives. Among respondents with some form of connection to Christianity, most feel the Church cannot answer their questions. When asked what’s missing from their communities of worship, these respondents cite opportunities to fight injustice and for other Christians to join them.

Jesus was a revolutionary who cared about exactly these things and seeking to follow his example is why I left a job in the corporate world to join World Vision. My desire is for World Vision to partner with churches making a difference in the world today, that together with the emerging generations, we will fight injustice and change the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children while simultaneously deepening and strengthening our relationships with God. Through this report, we hope to uncover ways in which the Church can be more relevant to engage and disciple the emerging generations.

Engaging a generation that often feels marginalised by the Church must start by listening. We are proud to have partnered with Barna Group on The Connected Generation project. Barna not only has the expertise and experience to lead a research project of this magnitude, but they are driven by a shared desire to understand how God is moving within the times in which we live. Our prayer is that this resource will help you to better understand and serve emerging generations. Our hope is that you will work through this guide with others, particularly young adults within your church and your community. As World Vision, we would love to partner with you in fighting social injustice throughout the world. We pray that God will inspire your ministry as, together, we walk alongside this connected generation.

Members of the Connected Generation


For more than a decade and across multiple projects, Barna Group has kept a close eye on the generation known as Millennials (defined in the United States as those born between 1984 and 1998). We’ve watched them navigate new technology, develop passions for community and justice, and balance particularly high ideals and ambitions. Our recent research has tracked their entrance into adulthood, career and family – and, among a significant proportion, a simultaneous departure from religion. We see similar trends now among the leading edge of Gen Z (born between 1999 and 2015), who, so far, are even less inclined toward religion than their Millennial peers.

Barna partnered with World Vision, a leading voice in global activism with a shared vision of engaging the next generation, to dramatically widen – and focus – the lens with which we view young adults around the world. We interviewed more than 15,000 adults ages 18 to 35 in 25 countries and nine languages, asking them about their goals, fears, relationships, routines and beliefs. This report represents a comprehensive summary of the findings specific to the United Kingdom.

Though some themes vary by country and context, there are other similarities across borders. In the following pages, you’ll meet maturing respondents who don’t just want to be ‘reached’ – they want to be involved and make a difference. Many of these driven adults are wary and weary, wrestling with questions, longing for deeper relationships and facing significant societal, professional and personal obstacles. Yet we see that faith is one important factor associated with their well-being, connection and resilience. When – or, for many, if – they walk into a church, they’ll need concrete teaching from leaders they can trust and meaningful opportunities to contribute to a faith community.

Through this report, Barna’s aim is not only to help the global Church to better understand 18–35-year-olds around the world, but to truly partner with them in discipleship and activate them in leadership. We invite you to join us in learning more about, and from, this connected generation.

TCG-UK Members of the Connected Generation

Essential Insights on Emotional, Social and Spiritual Trends Among Young Adults in the UK

What values are Millennials, and now Gen Z, bringing with them into adulthood? What kind of world are they already building? What is their relationship to faith? The reality is that members of this age cohort are hardly ‘the next generation’ anymore. Newcomers no longer, they are a formidable force, actively shaping the future of our workplaces, media, politics, arts, neighborhoods and, yes, churches.

For a groundbreaking global study, Barna Group combined its research expertise with the reach of World Vision, the largest child-focused Christian humanitarian organisation in the world, to interview more than 15,000 adults ages 18 to 35 in 25 countries and nine languages. This report represents a summary of the findings specifically within the United Kingdom, providing a regional snapshot of a group we’re calling The Connected Generation.

Through quantitative research, data visualisations and field guides, these pages reveal both sobering and surprisingly hopeful trends among a globally minded generation, including:

  • An overview of young adults’ goals, fears and emotional well-being in an anxious age
  • New data about attitudes toward spirituality, religion and the Christian Church in a secular climate
  • Contextualised insights about how to support and partner with 18–35-year-olds in your area as they fulfill ambitions toward vocation, justice and leadership

In addition to original writing from Barna president David Kinnaman, this country report from The Connected Generation project features commentary from local leaders in the United Kingdom, including Dan Blythe, Stephen Foster, Jordan Kelly, Tim Pilkington, Dr. Ruth Perrin and Jo Saxton.

Join us in learning more about – and from – this connected generation.

Get more information about The Connected Generation project and related resources at theconnectedgeneration.com.


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