Why teens don’t understand who Jesus is

Why teens don’t understand who Jesus is By Andy Peck for The Christian Post

Anyone involved in youth and children’s work is desperate for something positive. After all, most of the stats quoted are gloomy. Whether it’s the one saying that a large majority of young people have no connection with a local church, or that 50% of young people raised in a Christian home leave church at 18.

Hence when Barna came out with their findings that “most teens have a positive perception of Jesus,” many were thinking “at last!” The survey is impressive in its scope: it includes responses from nearly 25,000 teens aged 13-17 across 26 countries, and not just with Christian young people who may have a bias towards giving positive answers.

Barna has released some headline findings.

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  • Most teens around the world have a positive perception of Jesus. For example, about half of all teens, across faith groups, describe Jesus as “loving” (49%) and believe he offers hope to (46%) and cares about (43%) people.
  • Nearly half of teens overall (47%) believe Jesus was crucified, while one-third of all teens (33%) says Jesus rose again. Teens’ perceptions of Jesus are more about the past than the present.
  • There is a gap between the percentage of teens who identify as Christian in a nominal or cultural sense and those who say they have made a personal commitment to follow Jesus. One-third of self-identified Christian teens has not made a personal commitment to follow Jesus.
  • Teens do not see Christians nearly as positively as they see Jesus. Teens believe that Jesus is more “loving,” “wise,” and “peaceful” than the Christians who follow him. And Christians are seen as more “judgmental” or “hypocritical” than Jesus.

As editor of Premier NexGen, you might think I would draw some comfort from these stats. I do, but I have some cautions before we proclaim that a revival is coming any time soon.

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