How do today’s teens think about Jesus, the Bible and justice?
The Open Generation, Barna’s largest global study created with the partnership of organizations—including Alpha, Biblica and World Vision, with additional support from Christian Vision, Bible Study Fellowship, Christ In Youth and the Association of Christian Schools International—offers responses from nearly 25,000 teens, ages 13–17, in 26 countries and speaking 17 different languages, to answer this question.
About Half of Teens Say Jesus Offers Hope
In the first of three journals in this new series, How Teens Around the World Relate to Jesus, teenagers share their perspectives of who they believe Jesus to be and how he impacts their lives.
Data show it’s rare that teens think poorly of Jesus. Most teenagers around the world have a positive perception of him. About half of all teens, across faith groups, describe Jesus as “loving” (49%) and believe he offers hope to (46%) and cares about people (43%). The global impression of Jesus is that he is trustworthy, generous, wise, peaceful… and the glowing list goes on.
84% of Bible-Engaged Teens Say Scripture Helps Them Understand Their Purpose
The second journal of the series, How Teens Around the World View the Bible, explores teens’ interest in scripture and how they apply God's word to their lives, grouping respondents into three categories: Bible engaged, Bible open and Bible unengaged.
Bible-engaged teens have a “high” view of the Bible (believing it is “the word of God,” “the inspired word of God with no errors” or “the inspired word of God but with some errors”) and read the Bible several times a week. Bible-open teens read the Bible less than Bible engaged teens but more than three or four times a year and have a neutral view of the Bible. Bible-unengaged teens are all other teens.
When it comes to how the Bible speaks into their personal identity, Bible-engaged teens overwhelmingly believe the Bible teaches about living a meaningful life (84%), understanding their purpose (84%) and living wisely in society (80%).
This sets the tone for how today’s teens connect scripture to everyday life: Without meaningful Bible engagement and community, many in the open generation struggle to make sense of it all.
Seven in 10 Justice-Motivated Teens Wants to Help People in Need
The third and final journal in this series, How Teens Around the World Can Make an Impact, paints a clear picture of how teens desire to be a positive force for change in their homes, their communities and the world. Data show that scripture seems to call teens toward justice.
A new group of teens is introduced in this journal: Justice-motivated teens, those who have the highest motivation or potential for promoting justice.
Justice-motivated teens are motivated by the Bible not only to do good work, but to grow in their faith and relationship to Jesus. Far more than their Christian peers, justice-motivated Christian teens say the Bible motivates them to stand up against the wrongdoings of others (66% vs. 36%), promote fairness and justice (73% vs. 42%), make a positive impact on others’ lives (73% vs. 42%) and take care of people who need help (75% vs. 44%).
Altogether, the three journals in The Open Generation series help to advance the understanding of teens globally—their identity, values and views—and presents many opportunities for the Church to connect with and empower a rising generation.
To learn more about each of these three journals and to hear more insights from this brand-new research, tune into the free webinars being hosted by Barna over the next few weeks or purchase the series here.
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About the Research
The Open Generation: This study is based on online, representative public opinion surveys conducted by Barna Group. A total of 24,557 respondents ages 13 to 17 across 26 countries were surveyed between July 21, 2021 and August 24, 2021 and an additional 313 responses were collected in February of 2022. Sample distribution based on continent and country are shown below.
United States – 1,015
Canada – 1,001
Mexico – 1,003
Brazil – 1,014
Colombia – 1,002
Honduras – 301
United Kingdom – 1,009
Ireland – 1,010
Spain – 1,000
Germany – 1,006
France – 1,000
Netherlands – 1,003
Poland – 1,000
Russia – 1,018
Australia – 1,000
New Zealand – 713
Indonesia – 1,000
Korea – 1,004
Malaysia – 1,000
Taiwan – 1,005
India – 1,010
Philippines – 1,000
Egypt – 753
Kenya – 1,000
Nigeria – 1,002
South Africa – 1,001
The margin of error for each individual country is assumed to be +/- 2.1%.
Photo by Tim Mossholder from Unsplash.
Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.
© Barna Group, 2022