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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Church and faith give young people hope, says survey

People aged 18-35 who are engaged with their parish church are more likely to be optimistic about the future, secure in who they are, able to accomplish their goals and have someone that believes in them, according to a new report.

The report also found they were less likely to say they are lonely or isolated and anxious or uncertain about the future compared to those without faith.

David Kinnaman, president of the evangelical Christian polling firm Barna Group, said: “Through the largest single study in Barna’s history, we’ve gained unique insights into the most pressing issues and concerns facing Millennials and Gen Z – cohorts who are much talked about and often misunderstood. The study shows powerful connections between practicing faith and overall well-being.”

The latest global report surveyed more than 15,000 young adults across 25 countries. It found that respondents who attend a place of worship weekly were less likely to say they experience anxiety (22 per cent), than those who do not attend church regularly (33 per cent).

More than half (51 per cent) of practising Christians stated they felt ‘optimistic about the future’ compared with 34 per cent of those with no faith. Over two in five (43 per cent) of practising Christians said they were ‘able to accomplish my goals’, while just 29 per cent of those with no faith said the same.

The study also found practising Christians were less likely to say they felt lonely and isolated from others (16 per cent) than those with no faith (31 per cent). When asked if they felt ‘uncertain about the future’, those without faith were twice as likely to agree (51 per cent) than those active in their faith (27 per cent). Twenty-eight per cent of all young people stated they often feel sad or depressed compared with 18 per cent of practising Christians within the same age group.

Mr Kinnaman said: “From this report we do see evidence that some key mentorships and friendships are common among young people with a faith, and patterns in the data at least suggest religion may play some role in keeping loneliness at bay.”

The research suggests that faith also plays a role in how actively young people engage in voluntary work. Those who were engaged with church were more likely to regularly contribute through volunteering to their community or world (39 per cent compared to 23 per cent) and more likely to give financially to charitable causes (23 per cent to 17 per cent).

Tim Pilkington, World Vision UK CEO, said: “I hope Church leaders will be encouraged by the confirmation that the local church can be a place of leadership development, empowerment and a source of genuine hope.”

Picture: Cardinal Nichols with young Catholics at a youth event. Having faith and regularly attending church helps young people stay optimistic and positive, says a new survey.