In a recent study by the Barna Group, I was very surprised to read that nearly three-quarters of teenagers felt they would have a close, personal relationship with God (72%)when they grow up. The word that caught me in this study was the word, “would have”. Is there something that they are waiting for? What is holding them back from having that relationship now?
Marriage and church involvement are further down on the list of desires…below career and global travel. “Most American teenagers expect to be engaged in these traditional institutions (58% and 63%, respectively). However, only a small percentage felt certain about these outcomes in their own lives: 29% of teenagers felt they would definitely be “actively involved in a church or faith community” and just 12% of teenagers felt certain about “being married” by age 25. Teenagers are even less likely to entertain traditional goals regarding parenting. Less than half of teenagers (40%) felt they may have children by age 25 and only one out of 11 (9%) said they would definitely become a parent in their early adult years. Of course, considerations of marriage and parenting are dependent on finding a willing partner; nonetheless, these pursuits are not top priorities for most students.” (1)
There are many more statistics they help us to understand more the hopes and desires of today’s teens. You can read the survey further by clicking here.
Current church attendance appears to be a better predictor of future religious activity than is a teen’s religious affiliation. Among weekly attenders of religious youth groups, 60% said they definitely will be involved in a church in the future, which compares to just 22% of teens who attend less frequently and 14% among teens who never attend such religious functions.
Demographic differences played a significant role in teen aspirations. Teen girls were more likely than boys to define priorities and objectives. Girls were more likely to picture their lives with nine out of the 10 elements assessed in the study (the exception was being famous, an aspiration equally attractive to both sexes). Young women were twice as likely as young men to want a difference-making job, to be married, to have children, and to regularly serve the poor.
In terms of age, the youngest teens were much more idealistic than older teens in many ways. One of the biggest gaps is their predicted connection to a church: 41% of middle schoolers expect to be actively involved in a congregation, but that drops to 26% of high school freshman and sophomores and 24% among juniors and seniors.
High school students were also less likely than middle-schoolers to believe they would have a great-paying job, be married, have kids, be serving the poor, or experience fame by the age of 25.
By knowing about these statistics, it can help us as we seek to relate to this age group. We can ask questions that can bring the future that seems so far away to them to the present. Why wait to start a relationship with Jesus? We can share our own stories; showing the benefits we have experienced or the tradegies that followed as a result of our own choices concerning faith.
Seek out a teen today. Share your story. Invest in the next generation. If you would like more information on starting a group for young girls, where they have a safe environment to investigate Jesus, just contact me at Lynn@Proverbs31.org.