Don't Assume Jesus is Understood

Jesus Gap

This year, my adult leaders and I are reading and discussing Sticky Faith together. At our first meeting, we wrestled with the chapter on the Sticky Gospel. As part of this, I asked leaders to share their reaction to how teens defined what it means to be a Christian.

According to Sticky Faith, “Of the 168 youth group graduates who answered our question, 35 percent gave an answer that didn't mention Jesus at all. Granted, two-thirds of those kids who didn't mention Jesus mentioned God, but the number of youth who define Christianity without any reference to Jesus remains disturbing.”

In response to this finding, my leaders said, “I'm not surprised. Of course kids didn't mention Jesus in their definition of Christianity. Jesus is understood.”

As they said this, something clicked for me.

How often do those of us with well-formed faith – parents, church workers, adult leaders, and fellow Christians – assume that Jesus is simply an understood part of the Christian faith?

Maybe that assumption is part of the problem itself.

Here's what I mean. During a year-long research project I surveyed 369 high school students from across the country who were active in their congregation's youth ministry. One of the questions I asked them was Is it possible to be a Christian and not believe in Jesus?

Read the rest of this article here.

For more on this research as well as practical ideas on how to help strengthen what teens believe about Jesus, get your copy of The Jesus Gap today.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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