In a post-Covid world, teens are seeking, and finding, someone trustworthy, wise, and peaceful. This is a good thing. ◊
In the 1970’s, Jesus Christ Superstar was a musical and then movie targeted at a young and growing Baby Boomer generation. There was one line uttered by the conniving high priest Caiaphas that captured the enigma of Jesus:
“One thing I’ll say for him – Jesus is cool.”
Jesus was then, and apparently even now, a cool “Superstar” of sorts that captures the hearts, attention and awe of all those who encounter Him.
Particularly those seeking hope, understanding, and purpose in life.
And in a post-Covid world, that includes a lot of teens who are seeking someone trustworthy, wise, and peaceful.
New Research on Global Teens and Perceptions of Jesus
In a fresh 2022 study, Barna Group studied the responses from nearly 25,000 teens, ages 13-17, in 26 countries and speaking 17 different languages, to answer this question:
How do today’s teens think about Jesus, the Bible and justice? 1
As this latest segment of young people have an openness and positive perception of Jesus, the Barna Group refers to them as The Open Generation.
Here’s a sampling of some of the data results:
As presented in the study, global teens’ ideas about Jesus focus more on the past than the present. While nearly half of teens (47%) say Jesus was crucified, just one in three (33%) believes he was raised from the dead, and only 21 percent say he is active in the world today.
There is clearly room for growth and development, but these are substantial numbers in general support of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity.
So What’s Going On?
The following is my opinion of the dynamic and significant cultural trends this new research has only begun to uncover:
- Generational Response. – The world is discouraging, troubled, and impacting the new generation. In the west, Covid’s health scare and mandated medicine, school/business lockdowns and shutdowns have raised doubts and questions about government reach and long-trusted institutions. Young people still follow their parent’s lead but are also forming their own opinions about long-standing traditions and the control of honest information. This bodes well for an open-minded generation and world.
- Religion Loses. – The global youth of today are moving away from old realms of structured religion. As older generations loosen their familial hold on the youth, the traditional church world will morph into a realm reflecting, ironically, the early church in ACTS – free and spiritually alive. While I don’t believe the youth numbers will ever come back to the traditional Sunday School format of yesterday, the spiritual growth numbers will be quietly and privately staggering with the new generation that seeks and will find Jesus in the Bible. There will be a new flood of interest in Bible study.
- Jesus Wins. – The relevance of Jesus will only grow stronger over time given the inquisitive nature of the new quest of trustworthy truth and justice. The challenge is in the current state of general Bible illiteracy and ignorance among the young generation. This shouldn’t last too much longer as young people will probe into the Bible and New Testament Gospels specifically and get introduced without bias to the attractive figure of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, without the trappings of religious dogma, is even more intriguing and inviting to the uninitiated.
- Truth Prevails. – Jesus is Truth. And as the Truth will set one free of earthly bondage in a very real spiritual sense, Truth will continue to fight and ultimately prevail over the dark and evil pall of this broken and corrupted world, as foretold in the Bible’s Old and New Testament. Even when it looks like all is lost and hope is dashed, we can trust in the truth of Christ and the ultimate win over all that is temporal and evil. We may even die in the process – note the martyrs and heroes in Hebrews chapter 11. But Christianity is on the side of what is right, good and true. That truth will never change or waver.
- Strengthened Opposition. – While Jesus and Truth win ultimately, the real and spiritual anti-Christian opposition will remain and even prevail in some circumstances. The opposition to Jesus and the Spirit of God is fierce and violent. The clear presence of dark spiritual forces of evil and the occult in this world is apparent for those with eyes to see. But the Enemy of God is no match to the power of God, via the Holy Spirit in this world. The spiritual warfare ongoing and to come will be substantial. The new generation will, and must, learn to equip themselves with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and the powerful name of “Jesus” against a formidable enemy unseen.
- End Times Reawakening. – Finally, a real and inevitable trend will be the recalibration of end times eschatology. Long-standing beliefs will collapse under the weight of good Biblical hermeneutics and a new generation of Christian teaching not raised up and locked into Dispensationalist theory. The Church will be unfettered to live in the here and now and through the power of the Holy Spirit be the intended force for the Kingdom of God until the true end of time. With that healthy Biblical perspective, the new generation will truly live proactively for Godly good in this world as if the end will come tomorrow or 3,000 years from now.
Pray for Teens’ Transformation of the Mind
We are all called by the apostle Paul to:
not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Therefore, we should pray for this next generation who is so susceptible to the world yet boldly seeking to renew and know what is good, trustworthy, and just.
May they find that life-changing transformation in Jesus.
What do you think about Jesus?
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said too him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 16:15-17
1 Global Teens Share Their Perceptions of Jesus, the Bible & Justice, Barna Group, Ventura, CA, October 5, 2022.
Categories: Abundant Living, Calling, Church, Covid, Devotion, Discipleship, End Times, Evidence, Evil, Faith, Family, Fathering, Forgiveness, Jesus, Manhood, Marketplace, Marriage, Old Testament, Parenting, Prayer, Prophecy, Purpose, Suffering, The Church
Historically, studies have always shown that unbelievers have always had a tremendous respect for Jesus, even as they have disrespect for Christianity. The only real explanation is that the Church has strayed away from truly reflecting Christ to the world.
Though I too believe in an End Times reawakening, it is clear that there will be two versions of Christianity on display. One that is an apostate Church where people follow popular teachers who tell them what they want to hear (which is largely a self-centered gospel about what you can get now), and the true Church that Christ will gather unto himself, which will shine brighter and brighter with the light that only comes from God. According to 2 Peter 3, and 2 Thess. 2, the apostate Church will embrace the lawless one, but the true Church will hold fast to the promise of Christ’s return, and will work daily on becoming more like Him each day.
Such encouraging news…consistent with what I am seeing, experiencing! Yes, we will keep praying for teens…and for all who have a heart for God, that they will seek and find Truth…not an adulterated gospel…but find Truth…fall in love with God, Jesus and Holy Spirit…and obey…all the way…so we can together glorify God throughout eternity!