A new study has revealed most teens think positively of Jesus. Carried out by Barna Group in partnership with Alpha, Worldvision, Biblical and other groups, the research found 49 per cent of teens aged between 13-17 describe Jesus as “loving” and believed he offers hope (46 per cent). “Caring”, “trustworthy” and “generous” were also among the qualities rating the highest. ‘How teens Around the World Relate to Jesus’ is the first volume of ‘The Open Generation’, a first of its kind international research to better understand how teenagers engage with three crucial elements of the Christian faith: Jesus, the Bible and justice. The study also showed nearly half of teens overall (47 per cent) believe Jesus was crucified, while one-third of all teens (33 per cent) says Jesus rose again.

However, this fell to 15 per cent among teens of another faith and only 13 per cent among those with no faith. Despite these positive perspectives, not all teens who describe themselves as Christians have made a personal commitment to follow Jesus. Around one in five of those surveyed (22 per cent) said they have made a personal commitment while nearly one in three (33 per cent) admit they haven’t done so. For those who have decided to follow Jesus, there is a strong correlation between their decision and experiencing satisfaction, support, and stability. When it comes to how they see Christians, their answers are not as positive as those referring to Jesus. Only 18 per cent of teens felt Christians were “wise”, while some others saw them as more “judgmental” or “hypocritical” than Jesus.

Despite these positive perceptions of Jesus, only 24% of teens think that he makes a real difference in the world today, and less than a quarter (23 per cent) believe they can have a personal relationship with him. “I think we’ve probably been aware of that. I think the stats just make it a bit more obvious to us,” Dan Blythe, global youth director at Alpha International, told Premier. “I mean, Jesus was perfect, we’re not, so we know it’s never going to be exactly the same. But you see a lot of churches with the sign saying, ‘Welcome home, you belong here. Come as you are’. I think that’s because there’s been a history where people haven’t been accepted or included in church, maybe felt judged. “Churches are doing a lot of signage to try and make people feel welcome. It’s funny that the pubs in the clubs and those spaces don’t really have any of those sort of signs, because they don’t need to. People feel very welcome in those spaces.

“I’m not saying signage is the answer. But I do think it’s good to have a conversation about how we create spaces where young people can walk in, and not feel excluded and judged, and we’re not going to act like hypocrites.” The study drew 25,000 responses from teenagers based in 26 countries. The survey was sent to a cross section of teens, representative of each country, regardless of their faith background or leaning. David Kinnaman, CEO of Barna Group said, “This study is intended to help us listen to teens today. The impression these voices offer is that this generation is open, and curious, about different faiths and perspectives. “Our data suggests that although this generation may not deeply engage with Jesus, they are open to him, and when they do engage, their experience is positive. Our goal is to offer a picture of the rising generation to the Global Church so that we may engage teens in relevant, meaningful ways.”

Source: Premier Christian News

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