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Report detects anxiety among young churchgoers

25 October 2019


An infographic from the report

An infographic from the report

YOUNG people who attend church every week are less likely to experience anxiety than those who do not worship regularly, a new survey suggests.

The survey of more than 15,400 young adults, aged 18 to 35, from 25 countries across the world was published in a new report, The Connected Generation, on Monday. It was commissioned by the Barna Group in partnership with the Christian aid agency World Vision.

Just under half of the total participants were Christian (7699); 1196 were Muslim; 2734 described themselves as non-religious, 1028 as atheist, and 816 as agnostic. Jews (74), Hindus (563), and Buddhists (573) were also represented. One thousand respondents were from the UK, 3000 from the United States and Canada.

Just under half of all Christians surveyed (48 per cent) are described as “practising” because they attend a church service other than a wedding or funeral at least once a month. Of these, 71 per cent attend church once a week or more.

Of the latter, 22 per cent said that they had experienced anxiety, compared with 33 per cent of respondents who did not attend church regularly.

Fewer practising Christians said that they felt “lonely and isolated from others” (16 per cent) compared with respondents who reported having no faith (31 per cent). More than half (51 per cent) also said that they felt “optimistic about the future” compared with 34 per cent of respondents who reported having no faith.

Almost one third of all young people surveyed reported feeling sad or depressed; this was compared with 18 per cent among young practising Christians.

The report also explores attitudes of young people towards religion and the Church. More than half (57 per cent) of 18- to 35-year-olds surveyed said that religion was good for people. One in five thought that religion was bad for people.

Almost half of young adults who had left Christianity (13 per cent of the total sample) saw its teachings as hypocritical (46 per cent); judgemental (44 per cent); and out of touch with reality (32 per cent). This was compared with people who had never been Christians: 29 per cent; 26 per cent; and 22 per cent.

The chief executive of World Vision UK, Tim Pilkington, said: “We wanted to get a global understanding of 18- to 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.”

The President of Barna Group, David Kinnaman, said: “In addition to providing many hopeful signs about the opportunities ahead of these generations, the study shows powerful connections between practising faith and overall well-being.”

The full report is available to buy in digital and print editions at theconnectedgeneration.com

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