Australian teens are falling behind their counterparts in the rest of world on how they relate to Jesus, the Bible and how they feel they can impact the world around them.
That’s according to a joint survey by World Vision and the Barna Group.
The Open Generation is an international research study to understand the identity, values, and views of teenagers to help church leaders understand the younger generations.
It includes responses from nearly 25,000 teens aged 13-17 across 26 countries with 1,000 participants in Australia.
The three biggest concerns of the Australia respondents were mental health, climate change and future jobs.
World Vision Australia’s Head of Community, Faith and Partnerships Reverend Noddy Sharma said the Australian findings on faith are alarming, but 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,” he responded.
“All throughout the scriptures God is reminding us that He’s at work and He’s certainly at work in the next generation. His presence on the lives of our teens is lost when we focus on the media agenda or the hot topics of the moment, but all we need to do is uncover what He is already doing. It’s in this dusting off of God at work that we will capture the hearts and minds of the generations and unleash them to change the world,” Reverend Sharma propounded.
Barna Group CEO David Kinnaman explained: “This study is intended to help us listen to teens today. The impression these voices offer is that this generation is open, inclusive, and curious about different faiths and perspectives.”
“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,” he observed.
“It is our goal to offer a picture of the rising generation to the Global Church so that we may support and engage teens in relevant, meaningful ways.”
Both Reverend Sharma and Mr. Kinnaman will attend conferences hosted by World Vision Australia in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane next month.
A panel of practitioners from each state will also attend the forums to analyse the data and how to best address today’s teenagers and their concerns.
Reverend Sharma said “World Vision are passionate about seeing all children and young people realise what it means to live life to the full and this is the moment ‘The Church’ needs to courageously lean in towards the next generation so they can be all that they are destined to be.”
“I am incredibly excited for this amazing opportunity we have to explore the data together. 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”