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New research leads to youth mission training initiative

Christian youth workers are responding enthusiastically and practically to the latest research into young people’s perceptions of Jesus.

Christian youth workers are responding enthusiastically and practically to the latest research into young people’s perceptions of Jesus.

The research has been a catalyst to a peer-led youth evangelism training programme called Mission Academy Live to be launched in September, equipping young people to talk about Jesus and to demonstrate his love as a natural part of everyday life.
The research which has fuelled this initiative was commissioned by the HOPE Revolution Partnership and carried out in December 2016 by ComRes, and has since been published by some of the partners.

It showed that more young people are positive about Jesus and Christianity than previously thought:

    •    21% self-identify as followers of Jesus
    •    13% of young people aged 11-18 say they pray and read the Bible weekly and attend church monthly
“Whatever young people mean when they identify as ‘followers of Jesus’, it means we have a great starting point as we seek to equip young Christians,” said Phil Timson, HOPE’s youth director and one of the team who commissioned the research.

“The research didn’t define ‘church’, so for a young person this might include chapel services at faith schools, youth groups, Bible studies, prayer events or any other manner of things that young people could identify as ‘going to church’.”
The research also shows that young people are open to Jesus and the Christian faith:

    •    33% of young people have not made up their minds on belief in God
    •    56% of young people, when talked to about Jesus, feel comfortable
    •    Through talking about Jesus with Christians, 1 in 6 (16%) want to know more about Jesus
“That means there is openness to Jesus and the Christian faith,” Phil says.
Jimmy Dale, the Church of England’s national youth evangelism officer, adds, “What is really exciting for us is that there is this warmth and openness that we are seeing among young people – they are really open to faith.”
The HOPE Revolution Partnership, which includes the Church of England, Elim Pentecostal Churches, and eight Christian youth organisations, has developed Mission Academy Live to help young people make Jesus known through their words and actions.
From September hundreds of locally-based small groups will be established across the country, facilitated by their local church leader or youth worker. Through the following year the small groups will use 10 specially-produced, video-based sessions to explore God’s story of forgiveness, prayer, and evangelism, helping to equip young people to share their faith.

Regional hubs will bring the small groups together, enabling the small groups to stage larger events, as well as offering support for local youth leaders.
Mission Academy Live will be launched with six regional events on Saturdays in the autumn:

30 September – Peterborough
7 October – London
14 October – Burnley
21 October – Lichfield
28 October – York
4 November – Bristol
Martin Saunders, a contributing editor for Christian Today and the Deputy CEO of Youthscape, questioned the recent media reports on the research but said, “If this many young people called themselves Christians, then that number is almost certainly receptive to the faith at least. And when you dive down deeper into the data, 16% of young people said they wanted to hear more about Jesus, and 56% said they'd be comfortable with being told about another person's faith.

“Those are really encouraging statistics which should embolden our youth evangelism – especially when it's done peer-to-peer. There's a large number of teenagers out there who are essentially waiting for us to tell them about Jesus.
“If it encourages us that teenagers are receptive to our message, and helps to restore a bit of the Church's lost confidence, then it's a useful rallying cry.”
Dr Rachel Jordan-Wolf, the National Mission and Evangelism Adviser for the Church of England, one of the HOPE leadership team said, “I know of one church who thought it would be pointless to try to work with young people. When they saw this research, they realised there is hope, and that maybe they should do some youth work. That’s great news!”
Full details of Mission Academy Live and the research are available at

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