What do Christian Teens Actually Believe About Jesus?
What does the faith of the next generation of Christians look like? When we examine the actual beliefs of Christian teenagers regarding Jesus and his meaning for our lives, is what we find encouraging or alarming?
In The Jesus Survey: What Christian Teens Really Believe and Why (Baker Books, 2012), bestselling author Mike Nappa (’89) explores these questions by presenting the results of a nationwide survey of Christian teens. Here, Nappa discusses some of his findings with Biola Magazine and talks about the takeaways for parents, teachers, youth pastors and anyone invested in the faith of future generations.
Mike, could you briefly describe the types of Christian teens that you surveyed and the survey methodology?
The Jesus Survey was administered during summer 2010 at Reach Workcamp mission sites in Colorado, Indiana, Maine, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. (You can download a reproducible copy of the actual survey used at nappaland.com/tjs.) More than 800 teens, ages 12 to 18, participated in the survey. All teens self-identified as “Christian” and were active in a church youth group at the time of the survey. In all, the survey sample represented 16 Christian denominations from 24 United States, and delivered a 99 percent confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.
What was the overall goal with “The Jesus Survey”? What did you want to find out?
The original goal was just to satisfy my own curiosity! I wanted to discover what Christian teens believed about Jesus — and how that was (or wasn’t) affecting their everyday lives. So I asked them.
In terms of the specific survey, the first part was designed to measure what teens thought about four core doctrines of Christ: 1) The Bible is completely trustworthy in what it says about Jesus. 2) Jesus is God. 3) Jesus physically lived, died and came back to life. 4) Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Having established those baselines, the second part of the survey was designed to measure how a Christian teen’s belief or unbelief in those core doctrines affected his or her daily experience with God…
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