Last June, Hope Revolution published its ‘Talking Jesus’ research, looking at perceptions of Jesus, Christians and evangelism among 11 to 18-year-olds in the England. The findings have caused quite a stir, with one statistic in particular raising eyebrows. The research found that while 41 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds identify as Christian, 21 per cent were willing to say that they identified as ‘active followers of Jesus’.
Jimmy Dale, National Youth Evangelism officer for the Church of England, says, “When interviewed about these findings by the Sunday Telegraph, I commented that, ‘there was disbelief among
the team because [that number] was so high’. We cannot get round the fact that when young people are asked, these are the answers they give. “Whether we believe that the 21 per cent who identify as active followers of Jesus are ‘real’ active followers of Jesus is in some ways irrelevant, because for whatever reason, they think that they are,” says Dale. “When the popular belief is that it is hard for young people to identify as a follower of Jesus, I find it fascinating that 21 per cent of all 11 to 18-year-olds in England are willing to do just that.” The great finding here is that there is something about Jesus that young people are happy to identify with.
Dale continues, “admittedly there are those identifying as active followers of Jesus who don’t believe Jesus was the son of God and don’t believe in the resurrection, but in so many ways, this simply raises more questions for us to reflect on, not least of which around what this age group think it means to be an active follower of Jesus. My hope is that this research will raise aspirations and inspire us when it comes to evangelism with young people. My hope is that it causes the church to dream dreams about new ways they could reach out to young people who are identifying as active followers of Jesus, but seemingly not setting foot in our churches. Whatever our thoughts at this stage, much like most research, there’s a lot more unpacking to do.”
Source: Jimmy Dale in Christian Today
Bible Study: Psalm 71:5-8
SEPTEMBER Praise God so many young people are willing to identify with Jesus. PRAY earnestly for UK Christians to be renewed in their efforts to present only the real Jesus.