Figuring out what you want to do in life is a process that everyone goes through at some stage in their life. The question, “What do you want to be when you get older?” is something that is asked of little child once they reach the age of 5 where they are old enough to speak and make decisions for themselves. In American culture, finding out what you are passionate about sets the foundation for your educational dreams and desires as you get older.
A recent study conducted by Barna group titled, “Christians at Work,” looked at the intersectionality between how Christians incorporate their faith in their everyday lives, especially in the workplace. The main them of the research focused on vocational discipleship and how churches can better disciple youth to live out their occupational dreams and passions through serving God.
“So vocational discipleship is the process by which we would help someone understand they are made in the image of God to do things in the world, and that is meant to bring God glory and to do good, and to push back the broken parts of creation in doing your work and doing it well,” said Barna president, David Kinnaman.
The research showed that Gen Z and millennials are interested in knowing what career they want, what level of education they want to achieve, and how much money they want to make. The researcher found that since the youth are grappling with figuring this out, it is causing them to become anxious. However, what is even more interesting is that they are very ambitious, yet when surveyed, only one out of every four Christians that graduate from high school can say that they know what their calling is.
“So the opportunity is crystal clear that the church could vocationally disciple this emerging generation,” continued David Kinnaman.
When surveying employed Christians who integrate faith and work, Barna found that out of 1,459 employed Christians, 28% of them integrated their faith with their work and felt that they were living out their calling. Coining them as “integrators,” Barna also grouped those who may take some steps towards becoming integrators and coined them as “onlookers,” while those who were two steps away they coined as, “compartmentalizers.”
While it is difficult to know how one goes from being an onlooker or a compartmentalizer to an integrator, these statistics reveal that there are a group of people in the workplace who are integrating their faith with their work, thus providing churches leaders and pastors to question how to use the integrative approach to disciple the next generation.
What is even more touching is that the questions asked to the integrators applied to young and old, male and female, all ethnicities, all socio-economic backgrounds and educational backgrounds meaning that these integrators come from all backgrounds, yet could all share a common value of integrating their faith with their work.
As AM strives to raise the next generation of kingdom leaders, may they hold onto the hope that they can bring together youth from all parts of the world to take part in the vision of building God’s kingdom through their God given gifts and talents.