A new study suggests faith is shaping the lives of young people more than the generations that came before them. John Reynolds says these green shoots of hope should fill us with confidence as we share our Christian beliefs 


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It might be easy to look at the world right now and feel a bit down about being a Christian. We seem to be facing a tide of religious intolerance, creeping secularism and a multitude of church scandals. However, according to a recent study among British youth, the future is looking bright.

A survey carried out for the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life showed that young people of faith are far more tolerant than previous generations when it comes to accepting those of a different religion. According to the poll, 76 per cent of 18-24-year-olds who have a faith also have friends who hold different beliefs.

Of the 18-24-year-olds surveyed, 72 per cent have found faith helps them find purpose in life

On first glance, you might be tempted to cynically assume that such religious tolerance is the result of a lack of deep convictions and understanding – a kind of lukewarm approach to spirituality. “Of course they’re accepting of others, because they don’t really know what they believe in the first place! They probably think all religions are basically the same!”

The survey results paint a different picture entirely. Not only are young adults of faith more tolerant, it seems they are also taking their faith more seriously than their grandparents.

Of the 18-24-year-olds surveyed, 69 per cent believe their faith significantly impacts their lives, 72 per cent have found faith helps them find purpose in life and 78 per cent say their faith has shaped their moral values. (This is compared with 51 per cent, 47 per cent and 68 per cent, respectively, in the over 65 age range).

So this begs the question – why do many of us believe religious belief is on the decline?

Fresh hope

Although this research is not specific to the Christian faith exclusively, it still stand in stark contrast to headlines that suggest religious belief is of little interest to young people today.

There are signs of hope and growth in many places across the country. We need to start telling these positive stories – of the good news of faith that is happening all around the world and in our personal lives. I don’t mean beating people over the head relentlessly, I mean painting a fuller, more accurate picture that invites people to reflect on their lives and their beliefs.

As a former youth worker turned comedy content creator, I hear these stories all the time. At our church on Easter Sunday we saw nine people baptised. One, as young as ten, stood up and shared passionately her reasons for believing in God – how she has experienced him and how her faith is no longer her parents, but her own.

In the world of social media, a friend of mine, influencer Ged Armstrong, has recently been sharing with his 60,000 followers on social media his incredible journey of faith. It’s a story of how God transformed his life and took him from the party scene to the praise scene as he became more and more convinced of the claims of Jesus and the need to give his life to him.

The TV show American Idol posted a video on their Instagram last week of contestant Roman Collins singing the worship song ‘Goodness of God’ live on the show with worship leader CeCe Winans. It has amassed over 31 million views in three days. That is ten times more views than any other video I could see on the American Idol Instagram page.

So powerful was this moment that the pop star and American Idol judge Katy Perry was overcome with emotion as she watched, and the comments are full of people expressing their heartfelt praise.

If you’re like me, this inspires and encourages me to go out and do the same. In a world that doubts the relevance and importance of faith, the youth of today are sharing the full story. They’re sharing a better story, they’re sharing their story and they’re sharing God’s story. Are we going to join them?