New study reveals tbe spiritual side to Australian teenagers. Conferences launched to unpack the findings.
Australia’s teens are open to Jesus, and are experiencing positive effects from engaging with Him, according to a landmark new study – but the numbers who identify as Christian are falling behind the rest of the world.
These are some of the findings of a new report from The Barna Group and World Vision Australia, called The Open Generation - a first-of-its-kind international study looking at the identity, values, and views of teenagers.
The study, which surveyed over 24,000 teens aged 13-17 across 26 countries, is designed to help church leaders understand this emerging generation worldwide.
The Australian segment of the research involved 1000 participants, and the results, released this week, shows that our teenagers list mental health, climate change, and their future jobs, as their top three concerns.
The results mirror similar findings from McCrindle’s research into Generation Alpha and Generation Z.
Our Teens Fall Behind Global Averages of Christian Belief
CEO of the Barna Group, David Kinnaman, said the study shows this generation is “open, inclusive, and curious about different faiths and perspectives”. The findings have led to Barna labelling teens ‘The Open Generation’.
“Our data suggests that, although this generation may not deeply engage with Jesus - with only three in ten Australian teens identifying as Christian - they are open to him, and when they do engage, they experience positive effects,” Mr Kinnaman said.
World Vision Australia’s head of community, faith and partnerships, Reverend Noddy Sharma said that the study show Australia teens are less engaged with Christianity than their international counterparts. However he urged faith leaders to see this as an opportunity rather than a threat.
“Australian teens are falling behind against the global averages on how they relate to Jesus, the Bible and how they feel they can impact the world around them,” he said. “While this is alarming, it’s not a surprise. This is an invitation for us as the church to dig a little deeper and engage with the upcoming generation, so that we can assist them in reshaping how they think, what they believe and how they can turn up as their best selves in the world.”
“All throughout the scriptures God is reminding us that He’s at work and He’s certainly at work in the next generation.”
Conferences to Unpack the Findings
Youth workers, educators and ministry leaders are being invited to attend a series of events World Vision Australia are hosting in March called The Open Generation Conferences, to unpack the insights from the report. Speakers will include David Kinnaman, Rev. Noddy Sharma, and a panel of local practitioners for each state.
Rev. Noddy Sharma encouraged church leaders to attend and to “courageously lean in towards the next generation.”
“I am incredibly excited for this amazing opportunity we have to explore the data together,” he said. “If you have a heart for youth and you want to know what today's teens think about Jesus, their view of the Bible and how they can make an impact, then this study will excite you too”.
Conference events will be held in Brisbane (March 13), Sydney (March 15) and Melbourne (March 17). Head online to find out more or book your spot.
The Open Generation study was conducted by Barna Group in 2021, in partnership with Alpha, Biblica, and World Vision, with additional support from Christian Vision (CV), Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), Christ In Youth, and the Association of Christian Schools International.
Image: Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash