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?
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.
- A blessing for youth leaders nurturing faith beyond youth group
- 8 ways to help mission teams conclude more than “poor people are happy”
- The fantasy youth ministry candidate
- What students need most when they’re stuck spiritually
- The tearing of the curtain
- How do you not hate them?
- Messy Ashes
- What it means to be a Bradbury
- The (false) unity of 9-12
- Notes from the pandemic: The plight of young (unvaccinated) children & their parents