Barna Group recently released a first-of-its-kind international research study to help church leaders understand teenagers around the world.
"It includes responses from nearly 25,000 teens ages 13 to 17 across 26 countries," said Daniel Copeland, associate vice president of research for Barna Group. " We sent this survey out to a cross-section of teams nationally representative in all 26 countries we went to, regardless of their faith background."
The study focused on three crucial elements of the Christian faith: Jesus, the Bible and justice.
"The goal of this study was to understand the next generation," Copeland explained. "Everybody has heard the research about the millennial generation, but the goal of this study was to advance our understanding of teens globally, how can we listen to them, and learn from them rather than just pocket them and assume."
Daniel says they made some shocking discoveries through this study.
"When it came to Jesus, for example, one of the big things that we got to walk away from the study with is saying people love the person of Jesus, teenagers of all faith groups of all backgrounds. They admire the person of Jesus," Daniel explained. "For example, we asked teenagers, what are your favourite characteristics of Jesus? About half of them around the globe say that he's loving, around 46% of them say he offers hope and cares about people."
"They have this view of Jesus that they think he's good. They think he's a real person that lived historically, but at the same time, some of the narratives and the historical lessons haven't sunk true for them. So it's like I believe in the person, I love the attributes, but the actual beliefs and fundamental beliefs that we often attune to in Christianity haven't rung true for them. So it's a positive view, but a partial gospel."
In Canada, only 16 percent of youth consider themselves committed Christians. In the U.S., that number is higher, with 32 percent of youth considering themselves to have a relationship with Jesus.
Today on Connections, Daniel Copeland, associate vice president of research for the Barna Group, shares why they did this study. He'll also talk about some of the surprising discoveries.