Today's young adults, including those with a biblical worldview, are tomorrow's leaders of the world. A recent survey reveals some notable differences in the goals they're shooting for in the new decade.
The Barna Group labels them the "connected generation" – 18- to 35-year-olds from Gen Z and Millennials. Barna interviewed more than 15,000 of them around the globe – representing 25 nations and nine different languages – to determine their biggest priorities and aspirations heading into the new decade. The extensive study, conducted in partnership with World Vision, resulted in The Connected Generation report.
Alyce Youngblood is senior writer for that report. The research, she explains, revealed a group of "driven" adults who are "longing for deeper relationships" in a world full of significant obstacles.
"Yet, we also found that faith is one important factor associated with their well-being, connection, and resilience," says Youngblood. "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."
Been there, done that …
Barna found that many in the connected generation are already up and running, having accomplished a number of milestones early on in their lives. For example, when given 14 various goals and asked "Which of the following have you already accomplished?" the connected generation responded as follows:
- Finished my education - 48%
- Became financially independent from my parents - 46%
- Traveled to other countries - 43%
- Started a career - 41%
- Became spiritually mature - 40%
- Found out who I really am - 36%
- Enjoyed life before I have gotten more responsibilities - 36%
- Followed my dreams - 31%
- Became a parent - 31%
- Got married - 25%
- Cared for the poor and needy - 25%
- Bought a home - 21%
- Started a business - 15%
- Became famous or influential – 4%
Different priorities for young Christians
Breaking down the numbers, researchers found that when it comes to reaching prioritized goals, Christians are more successful in accomplishing goals that reflect having a biblical worldview in society.
"Practicing Christians are leading young adults in focusing on family, with nearly one in three (32%) reporting they've already gotten married (vs. 26% non-practicing Christians, 29% practicing other faith and 18% no faith) and 37 percent reporting becoming a parent (vs. 34% non-practicing Christians, 31% practicing other faith and 25% no faith)," Barna divulged.
"Additionally, just over half say they have already become spiritually mature (53% vs. 39% non-practicing Christians, 43% practicing other faith and 33% no faith)."
10-year bucket list
In addition, the 18- to 35-year-olds were asked, "Which of the following would you like to accomplish in the next 10 years." Following are those responses, ordered from most to least popular:
- Buy a home - 53%
- Get married - 41%
- Follow my dreams - 38%
- Start a business - 36%
- Become a parent - 33%
- Travel to other countries - 32%
- Become financially independent from my parents - 30%
- Start a career - 29%
- Finish my education - 28%
- Find out who I really am - 24%
- Care for the poor and needy - 23%
- Become more mature spiritually - 21%
- Enjoy life before I have more responsibilities - 20%
- Try to become famous or influential - 18%
Christians more family-oriented
Similar to the trend seen in "goals already accomplished," a higher percentage of Christians endeavor to pursue goals that put an importance on family and putting Christian principles first.
"Goals that did not make the top 10 list for young adults around the world include caring for the poor and needy (23%) [and] becoming more mature spiritually (21%)," Barna noted.
"However, a greater percentage of practicing Christian young adults reports accomplishing or prioritizing some of these goals; for example, one in three desires to care for the poor and needy within the next 10 years (32% vs. 21% non-practicing Christians, 26% practicing other faith and 17% no faith)."
General trend away from family goals
According to the survey, young adults across the world are putting less emphasis on building a family, serving others, and putting an importance on their faith … in favor of pursing personal success both academically and in the workforce.
"Data show that Millennials and Gen Z are extremely success-oriented, with both generations moving further away from more traditional life goals of generations past to a life course that demands achievement or at least stability in their education, career and finances," Barna researchers revealed.
"Accordingly, The Connected Generation research uncovered that young adults are just as likely to feel 'optimistic about the future' as 'uncertain about the future,' as well as 'afraid to fail' and 'anxious about important decisions' (40% each). Another 36 percent say they feel 'pressure to be successful.'"