A survey interviewed 25,000 teenagers in 26 countries. “It’s rare that teens think poorly of Jesus. The global impression of Jesus is that he is trustworthy, generous, wise, peaceful”, the authors say.
Barna Group recently released The Open Generation study, which aims to “help church leaders understand teenagers around the world”.
They interviewed nearly 25,000 teenagers aged 13-17, from 26 countries. Among them, 22% identified as committed Christians, 30% as nominal Christians, and the rest had different beliefs or were agnostic or atheist.
The study was conducted in partnership with Alpha, Biblica, and World Vision, with additional support from Christian Vision, Bible Study Fellowship, Christ In Youth, and the Association of Christian Schools International.
According to the authors of the study “it’s rare that teens think poorly of Jesus. The global impression of Jesus is that he is trustworthy, generous, wise, peaceful, and the glowing list goes on”.
Furthermore, “neutral ideas about Jesus are more common than negativity, even among non-Christians”, with 46% saying he offers hope; two in five (43%) that he cares about people; and over a third trustworthy (39%) and generous (37%).
However, just 24% think Jesus makes a real difference in the world today, and 23% believe it is possible to have a personal relationship with him.
Meanwhile, only 8% said they see Jesus as detached from current real issues, 7% think he judges people incorrectly, 6% think he is irrelevant and 4% say he is hypocritical.
Over a third (36%) of the respondents pointed out that “Jesus is God in human form who came to forgive us of our sins”, when asked which description of Jesus was most important to them.
The study also shows that 47% of the Christian teenagers believe Jesus was crucified and a third believe that he rose again, but among those of another faith that drops to 15%, and only 13% among those with no faith believe that.
“Generationwide, there is little grasp of or belief in teachings about Jesus' incarnation, resurrection and present-day relevance, even as teens applaud principles of his life and character”, explained the researchers.
“Teens have a respect for the Bible and are curious about its contents, but overall, they aren’t quite sure how scripture can inform and influence the world around them”, underlined the survey authors.
Over a third (36%) of all the teens surveyed responded that the Bible is true and 41% believe it is inspired by God, but only 32% said it is relevant.
Furthermore, the study points out that 38% of the respondents strongly agreed that the Bible teaches about living a meaningful life; 36% said the Bible helps them understand their purpose in life, and 34% that it helps them to live wisely in today’s society.
It also stresses that “community and relationships play an integral role in how well and how often teens read the Bible. Guidance from parents and pastors, as well as others in the church community, can have considerable influence on a young person’s journey with scripture and applying biblical teachings”.
You can learn more about The Open Generation study here.
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