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Study highlights faith impact on 18-35 year olds 

A report has found 18-35-year-olds who are engaged with church are more likely to say they are optimistic about the future, secure in who they are, able to accomplish their goals, and have someone who believes in them

Connected Generation

The report also found the same group were less likely to say they are lonely or isolated and anxious or uncertain about the future compared to those without faith.

The latest global report conducted by Barna Group, The Connected Generation, surveyed more than 15,000 young adults across 25 countries, and has been released in partnership with children’s charity World Vision. This survey is one of the one of the largest global studies of its kind to be conducted.

In an effort to look into the link between personal connections and mental health, The Connected Generation engaged participants in their attitude toward religion and faith and its role in their lives. Respondents who attend a place of worship weekly were less likely to say they experience anxiety (22 per cent), than those who do not attend church regularly (33 per cent).

More than half (51 per cent) of practising Christians stated they felt “optimistic about the future” compared with 34 per cent of those with no faith. Over two in five (43 per cent) of practising Christians said they were “able to accomplish my goals”, while just 29 per cent of those with no faith said the same.

The study also found practising Christians were less likely to say they felt lonely and isolated from others (16 per cent) than those with no faith (31 per cent). When asked if they felt ‘uncertain about the future’, those without faith were twice as likely to agree (51 per cent) than those active in their faith (27 per cent). Almost three in 10 (28 per cent) of all young people stated they often feel sad or depressed compared with 18 per cent of practicing Christians within the same age group.

The research suggests that faith also plays a role in how actively young people engage in voluntary work. Those who were engaged with church were more likely to regularly contribute through volunteering to their community or world (39 per cent compared to 23 per cent) and more likely to give financially to charitable causes (23 per cent to 17 per cent).

President of Barna Group, David Kinnaman said, 'Through the largest single study in Barna’s history, we’ve gained unique insights into the most pressing issues and concerns facing Millennials and Gen Z—cohorts who are much talked about and often misunderstood. In addition to providing many hopeful signs about the opportunities ahead of these generations, the study shows powerful connections between practicing faith and overall well-being.'

He added, 'For years now, our team has gone to great lengths to listen to the stories and experiences of teenagers and young adults across the religious spectrum—from devoted and passionate adherents of Christianity and other faiths, to those for whom religion is an artefact of a bygone era. From this report we do see evidence that some key mentorships and friendships are common among young people with a faith, and patterns in the data at least suggest religion may play some role in keeping loneliness at bay.'

World Vision UK CEO Tim Pilkington said, 'We wanted to get a global understanding of 18-35-year-olds and what they perceive to be the challenges they face. Many elements of the findings have been illuminating, but I hope church leaders will be encouraged by the confirmation that the local church can be a place of leadership development, empowerment and a source of genuine hope.'

The full report is available in digital and print editions and more details are available at https://theconnectedgeneration.com 

Baptist Times, 25/10/2019
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