Teens’ Perceptions of Jesus and the Bible

The Barna Group recently reported the responses from nearly 25,000 teens, ages 13-17, in 26 countries and speaking 17 different languages, to evaluate their perceptions of Jesus and the Bible.

Interestingly, 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.

When Barna explored teens’ interest in Scripture and how they apply God’s Word to their lives, they grouped 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”) 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 the fellowship of the saints, many in the open generation struggle to make sense of it all.

A great takeaway from this data is that we need to keep emphasizing “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12) and “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Today’s teens crave real answers and rock-solid faith. They want to “know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings” because they have a deep-seated need to “attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). Give them Jesus and the Scriptures, not food and entertainment!

Kyle Campbell

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