For some, it’s the easiest thing in the world.
For others, it feels like climbing out of a World War I trench and going ‘over the top’.
37% of teenagers believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For many of us, it’s like visiting obscure and distant relatives at Christmas: something that is not particularly enjoyable, you’re relieved when it’s all over, but you do out of a sense of duty.*
Beginning a conversation about faith can be exciting, awkward, terrifying, daunting and amazing all at the same time. But there may well never have been a better time to do it and here are three reasons why…
- Religion is out, but atheism is not in. On a cold Sunday morning in March, I was invited onto ten BBC Local Radio stations to respond to some research from the Vatican that had found that young people in Britain were amongst the least ‘religious’ in Europe. I was asked why young people were no longer interested in faith and why the church was failing them. To the host’s surprise I said I agreed that young people were not interested in the institution of religion, but faith in Jesus was a very different thing. There was a degree of consternation when I told them that Comres had found that just 18% of 11-18s don’t believe in God and that 37% of teenagers believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will find common ground with our friends only when we start with our shared belief in something, rather than if we try to win people to religious adherence to the church.
- Many of our heroes love Jesus. I spend many a Sunday afternoon with one of my best mates, Jon. We sit for hours and watch cars go round a track and get surprisingly impassioned and animated. And we love it when Lewis Hamilton wins. Jon wouldn’t call himself a Christian yet but I tell him I pray for him regularly. The fact that our hero, the F1 World Champion also believes in God and prays regularly adds another plausibility structure that I might not be completely deluded. And they are everywhere – from Justin Bieber to Dan Walker, Jurgen Klopp to the Queen, Mary Berry to Bear Grylls, whether you are into music, meringues, management, or the Monarchy, I am grateful for those in the public eye who add credibility to my faith.
- We are not growing out of it. Whilst nominal Christianity is falling with each generation (and good riddance to it…), a recent BBC survey found that 62% of British adults believe that some form of miracle is possible today, and the percentage was higher for young adults. Nearly three-quarters of 18-24 year olds said they believe in miracles, more than any other age group. Whilst there are some who would have you believe that we are becoming increasingly secular, rational and anti-spiritual, there are some superb reasons to be encouraged that younger generations are as interested in faith as ever. Our job is to point them towards Jesus.
So what does this mean for us?
Firstly, let’s be encouraged that we have more in common with our non-Christian friends than we might think. They might not be committed Christians, but chances are they believe in something beyond themselves and this is a great place to start.
Whether you're into music, meringues, management, or the Monarchy, I am grateful for those in the public eye who add credibility to my faith.
Secondly, they are likely to be open to being prayed for. I was deeply inspired by Bear Grylls offering to pray for Barack Obama on camera and have been getting bolder in asking if I can pray for people everywhere – I’m finding that most are too polite to refuse.
Thirdly, let’s take our opportunities to invite people to take the next step, whether it’s a Christmas social media post, an invitation to a carol service or a simple, ‘can I tell you my story?’, let’s be encouraged to have a go. The chances are it will go better than we think.
*For the record, aunts, uncles, relatives young and old, this is not how I feel about you and I look forward to seeing you all on Boxing Day!