For Generation ‘Y’ Christianity a Faded Memory?

The researchers surveyed 300 young people from Generation Y - those born after 1982 - who had attended a Christian youth or community project. The five-year study looked at their faith in relation to Christianity and the impact of Christian youth and community work on their faith development. Sylvia Collins-Mayo, a sociologist of religion and one of the researchers behind the study, said: “For the majority, religion and spirituality was irrelevant for day-to-day living; our young people were not looking for answers to ultimate questions and showed little sign of ‘pick and mix’ spirituality.  She said that young people only sought a religious perspective on “rare occasions” and that when they did, they often ‘made do’ with a “very faded, inherited cultural memory of Christianity in the absence of anything else”.  This tended to be in times of difficulty, for example after suffering a bereavement or illness in the family.

Fewer than one in five young people believes in a God ''who created the world and hears my prayers'' and teenagers were more likely to believe in the ''nicer'' parts of religious doctrine than the devil and punishment. Pop songs were played at memorial services ''because the young congregation did not know any hymns''.

The research found that young people were more likely to put their faith in family, friends or themselves than in God.  What is salutary for the Church is that generally young people seemed quite content with this situation, happy to get by with what little they knew about the Christian faith.”

The findings suggested that while Christian youth projects were an important source of support for young Christians, they had little impact on the faith of the non-churchgoers who took part in them.

Building on the hugely influential, ground-breaking research in Making Sense of Generation Y, this is a must for all those working with young people in the church or wanting to develop their mission to young people.

With contributions from Bob MayoSylvia Collins-MayoSally Nash and Christopher Cocksworth.






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