British teens have positive view of Jesus, study finds

(Photo: Unsplash/Aedrian)

A new study by the Barna Group suggests that British teens have an openness towards Jesus while a sizable minority are interested in learning about Christianity.

Barna's Open Generation Global study surveyed 1,000 UK teens aged 13 to 17 and found that they have more positive than negative perceptions of Jesus. 

A third (34%) of UK teens said that Jesus offers hope to and cares about people. Just over a quarter said that he is trustworthy (24%) and generous (23%).

Over a third (37%) have some level of motivation to learn more about Christian scriptures, while nearly half (43%) believe that Jesus was crucified. 

The study also found that over half of British teens are "justice oriented" (54%), but lack confidence and commitment to act.

Among those who identified as committed Christians, 52% said they care deeply about injustice but are unsure about the Church and its leaders' role in justice. 

Despite positive attitudes towards Jesus, only 13% believe Jesus is still active in the world today 

"The data in this report reveal that teens in the United Kingdom are in a formative and precarious season of life", said David Kinnaman, CEO of Barna Group.

"It is encouraging to see they are open to Jesus, show interest in learning more about the Bible, and are motivated toward addressing injustice in the world.

"But we also noticed challenges, including British teens' lack of confidence in their ability to make an impact, and their uncertainty about Christian church's role in addressing injustice.

"Our goal for this study is to help churches and Christian leaders in the UK engage, disciple, and support this rising generation entering adulthood."

The study was conducted in partnership with World Vision, Alpha UK and Biblica. 

Phil Simpson, Youth Development Lead at Alpha UK, said that the challenge for UK churches and those engaging with young people "is that these perspectives are mostly past tense".

"Nearly half of UK teens believe Jesus was a person who was crucified, however there is a significantly small percentage who believe Jesus is active in the world today, and the perception of this for the average UK teen is lower than the global perspectives of teenagers," he said.

"The church needs to help them begin to see Jesus as someone who is alive, someone who can be encountered and someone who is active in the world in 2023."