Kinnaman Examines the Journey from Lost to Found, Part 1

LostMe_review_06302015David Kinnaman with Aly Hawkins. 2011. You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith [1].  Grand Rapids: BakerBooks. (Goto part 2; goto part 3)

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

I dropped out of church when I went to college.

I was neither angry at God nor questioning his existence—problems closer to home dominated my life:

  • I felt lost when our church youth group vanished overnight after the youth director was sacked;
  • I felt lost when I failed my college audition for music school;
  • I felt lost when the Vietnam draft loomed over me and I had trouble explaining to my parents why fighting in an unethical war was wrong; and
  • I felt lost in my singleness at a time when most of my peers were getting married.

In my junior year, my lostness gave way when I roomed with a persistent navigator [2] who helped me re-engage with the church. This is when I realized that my relationship with God was separate from my relationship with the church. This realization helped me reconnect with God and begin to share my other feelings of lostness with friends in Christ.

In his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman describes today’s drop out problem as a “faith development” or “disciple-making” problem (21). Kinnaman classifies drop outs into 3 broad categories:

  1. “Nomads [who] walk away from church involvement but still consider themselves Christians.”
  2.  “Prodigals [who] lose their faith, describing themselves as ‘no longer Christian’”.
  3. “Exiles [who] are still invested in their Christian faith but feel stuck (or lost) between culture and the church” (25).

This drop out problem is critical because the drop outs make most of their important decisions at a period in life (ages 20 to 30) when they have disengaged from their spiritual life in the church. Ironically, teenagers are some of the most religiously active Americans while 20-somethings are the least religiously active Americans (22).

Following George Barna, Kinnaman prefers the term, mosaic, and not the term, millennials, to describe this 20-something generation because of the eclectic (and often contradictory) nature of the relationships and the values that they pursue (29). In this context, the catchphrase, “every story matters”, is helpful because generalizations about mosaics are misleading (25).  Thus, Kinnaman is constantly highlighting the diversity among nomads, prodigals, and exiles even when he writes about these particular categories.  This diversity often takes the form of stories and counter-stories.

Kinnaman sees 3 important areas where the church needs to fill gaps in disciple-making among mosaics [3]:

  1. Relationships. Mosaics are both “extraordinarily relational and, at the same time, remarkably self-centered” (29).  It is hard to get to “we” when it’s all about me.
  2. Vocation. Mosaics receive “little guidance from their church communities for how to connect these vocation dreams deeply with their faith in Christ”. Special problems arise with creatives (artists, musicians, filmmakers, etc) and scientists (29-30, 80-83).
  3. Wisdom. Mosaics are inundated with information, but often lack the wisdom to filter through it (30-31).

Kinnaman sees the need to think of discipleship in terms of apprenticeship relationships where the uniqueness of the individual is both known and cherished (35).

David Kinnaman is the president and majority owner of the Barna Group [4], a private resource group in Ventura, California, which specializes in interviews and surveys on matters of faith.  He is well-known as the co-author of unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity.  You Lost Me is written in 12 chapters divided into 3 parts:

Part 1:  Drop Outs

  1. Faith, Interrupted,
  2. Access, Alienation, Authority,
  3. Nomada and Prodigals,
  4. Exiles,

Part 2: Disconnection

  1. Overprotective,
  2. Shallow,
  3. Anti-science,
  4. Repressive,
  5. Exclusive,
  6. Doubtless,

Part 3: Reconnection

  1. What’s Old is New
  2. Fifty Ideas to Find a Generation (7).

The focus in part 1 is on mosaics, in part 2 on the church, and in part 3 on how to respond to what has been learned.

David Kinnaman’s You Lost Me is a well-written marketing study complete with statistical results, analysis, and recommendations. Kinnaman’s research is thorough and he displays a deep understanding of the literature on dealing with generational shifts in the church.  My first response on finishing this book was to order his other book, UnChristian.  Pastors and lay leaders need to be aware of this research.

Here in part 1 of this review, I have given an overview of Kinnaman’s book.  In part 2, I will look in more depth at his discussion of mosaics and the 3 classes of drop outs.  In part 3, I will explore his discussion of the challenges facing the church.



[3]George Barna prefers the term, mosaic, to millennial because of the eclectic nature of relationships in this generation (29).



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Dayton: Remembering the Story of Pentecostalism

Dayton_06302014Donald W. Dayton [1].  2004.  Theological Roots of Pentecostalism. Metuchen NJ:  Hendrickson Publishers [2].

I stumbled on to Theological Roots of Pentecostalism during a visit to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC [3] in 2006. Donald Dayton received an award from the faculty that day and he preached in the chapel on the many faces of Wesley. Later, I bought copies of this book and another of his books, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage.

Theological Roots of Pentecostalism appealed to me because I had recently become acquainted with a Pentecostal mission evangelizing Muslims. I was intrigued by the different style of worship and by the dedication of the evangelists that I met who were Pentecostals. I wanted to learn more about them.

Dayton raises 4 points that were insightful.

  1. The Four Square gospel is very different. He describes a Pentecostal as someone who sees Christ as savior, Baptizer of the Holy Spirit, healer, and coming King (173). A typical Presbyterian confesses Christ only as Lord and Savior.
  2. The Pentecostal reads the books of Luke and Acts with special interest (especially Acts 2). The hermeneutic used is devotional (23). Essentially, each verse should be read as if the words “in my life” were appended to it.
  3. The discussion of the Latter Rain movement was thought provoking. The basic idea is that the gifts of the spirit were especially prominent during the the Apostolic period and would also reappear in the latter days. The reference to Joel 2:28—And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.  Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. (Joel 2:28-29 ESV)—the recent active participation of women in ministry is accordingly taken to be a sign of the Second Coming of Christ.
  4. Dayton links the switch among American evangelicals from Post-millennial to Pre-millennial eschatology to a profound discouragement with following the Civil War. The approaching end was signaled, not by progress, but by decline (163). This transition is important in explaining the attitude towards evangelism and service that we see today. Those waiting to be raptured (beamed up) have less incentive to promote reform than those preparing the world to receive the coming King.

Christians owe a debt of gratitude to the Pentecostal movement which many people date to the 1906 revival on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California [4].  The Pentecostal movement began with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit which touched all races, ethnic groups, and genders from its inception and it has spread worldwide.  If it were not for the Pentecostal movement, the number of Christians in the world would have declined in the 20th century, much like their numbers have in the United States.

I enjoyed this book. Its take away points are likely to color my view of Pentecostals for a long time. I would recommend it to Christians curious about Pentecostalism and interested in the history of religion in America.


[1] Professor emeritus, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (




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