By Aaron Earls
A recent survey sought to find out the spiritual temperature of British members of Generation Z. Researchers were so shocked by the results they delayed releasing the results until they could analyze it more.
More than 1 in 5 British people (21 percent) between the ages of 11 and 18 describe themselves as active followers of Jesus, with 13 percent saying they are practicing Christians who attend church.
The perception had been that Christianity was much lower among British teens. “There was disbelief among the team [of researchers] because it was so high,” Jimmy Dale, the Church of England’s national youth evangelism officer, told the Telegraph.
The survey, commissioned by Hope Revolution Partnership, a Christian youth organization, also asked young people why they became Christians.
While almost half (45 percent) say their growing up in a Christian family was one of the most important reasons they became a Christian themselves, many listed some unexpected reasons for their faith.
Researchers asked: “When you think about the reasons you became a Christian which two or three of the following, if any, were most important for you?”
Here’s how the members of Generation Z responded:
- 45% growing up in a Christian family
- 17% going to a religious school
- 15% Sunday School
- 15% reading the Bible
- 13% visiting a church building
- 13% going to a church wedding, funeral, christening, baptism, confirmation
- 12% going to a regular church service
- 11% a youth group
- 10% a spiritual experience
Even fewer spoke about other church youth activities or specific courses on Christianity popular in England like Alpha or Christianity Explored.
The least frequently named reasons someone said they became a Christian: Christian media (2 percent), Christians on social media (1 percent), and newer forms of church (1 percent).
With the high numbers for visiting beautiful, historic church buildings and much lower numbers for newer attempts at reaching teenagers, Dale said Christians may need to reevaluate their approaches.
“Things which we would call as old hat methods are some of the more effective ways,” he said.
Visiting a church building and reading the Bible were especially effective in reaching Generation Z Asians in the United Kingdom.
More than half (55 percent) said reading the Bible played an important role in their conversion, while 26 percent mentioned visiting a church building.
For those who say they became a Christian after the age of 11, some of the more typical outreach plans show up more frequently.
More than 1 in 5 (21 percent) of those who came to faith after childhood say it involved a conversation with a Christian they knew well and 16 percent say a children’s or youth camp or event played a vital role in their conversion.
Of note for this time of year, the survey also found 37 percent of British Generation Z believe the story of Easter that Jesus rose from the dead, 40 percent said they did not believe that happened, and 23 percent said they did not know.
“What is really exciting for us is that there is this warmth and openness that we are seeing among young people,” Dale told the Telegraph, “they are really open to faith.”
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AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.