What’s urgent for young Christians?

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Maya Duckworth
/ Categories: Advocacy

Sometimes it’s hard to know what the young people in our congregations and communities really think and care about, because not every church can afford to employ a young adult or youth pastor and our elders often make up our church governance boards and vestries. Luckily, some members of the Tearfund family have done some of the legwork for us to nail down some of the big questions, and we’ve put together some inspiration and ideas to help you and your church community!

Over the past few years, Tearfund in Australia, the UK and Canada, as well as A Rocha Canada, have each carried out research with Christian teenagers or young adults (18-40 years old) in their countries. They identified that climate change one of the biggest global concerns for these young Christians, and they also want their churches to talk about it more. They want to take action together.

 

In all three surveys, climate change featured as one of the global issues young Christians were most concerned about. Credit: Unsplash

 

Here’s what young people have to say

We’re worried about climate change.

With projections depicting more extreme weather events and more people in poverty, it’s no wonder many young Christians are feeling increasingly concerned about climate change and how it will impact their future and others around the world – with nine out of ten young Christians surveyed in Canada and the UK agreeing they were worried about climate change! They’re not the only ones concerned about the future—the recent Faith and Belief Study revealed that New Zealanders are feeling less hopeful about the future of the planet.

We think it’s important for Christians and churches to act on climate change  

Young people are worried about climate change, and they also believe Christians have a stewardship responsibility for our planet. 66% of Australian respondents agreed that local churches have a responsibility to act on climate change; not just as individuals, but also as local church communities.  

Their faith taught them to care about injustice and the most vulnerable, according to nearly all the young Canadian Christians surveyed. They believe that caring for creation is an essential act of discipleship. It’s inspiring to hear this desire to see faith in action!

 

“As the Body of Christ, part of showing and sharing the kindness and love of God towards the world be to care for his creation in a very intentional way” - Canadian survey respondent. Credit: Unsplash 

 

 

Our churches aren’t doing enough yet.

The results were conclusive; young Christians feel the Church could and should be playing a much more impacting role in the climate crisis. They are gravely concerned about the future.  

The surveys asked their respondents in Canada and the UK whether they felt their local church was doing enough about climate change. Only one-third of Canadian respondents felt this was the case, and nine-in-ten British respondents felt their church wasn't doing enough yet. Our young people are telling us that we need to do more.  

 

The results were conclusive; young Christians feel the Church could and should be playing a much more impacting role in the climate crisis. Credit: Unsplash 

 

We want to see our churches talk more about climate change and take action together. 

The young Christians surveyed want their churches to talk more about climate change; from more environmental content in sermons, to sharing information on how congregation members can adopt more eco-friendly practices in daily life. They would like to be involved with their congregations in taking more practical steps like tree planting, community gardens, or reducing their emissions.  

There are heaps of simple and powerful actions churches can take. It can be overwhelming to know where to start. There’s no one thing—just do something! 

If engaging with your young people about environmental issues and climate change is new, that’s great - we’re all wading our way through this together! A great option is to bring in someone who is up-to-date and confident in communicating effectively from a biblical perspective. Perhaps now’s the time to book a Tearfund speaker or go through the Christianity and Climate Change small group series featuring Dr Katherine Hayhoe.

Here’s a Church Action Guide to help you and the young Christians in your church family make a start  

Download our church action guide

 

Above all, the British teenagers who responded wanted their churches to show them how they could practically make a difference on climate change and give them opportunities to do it.Credit: Unsplash

 

What could this mean for churches in Aotearoa-New Zealand?  

Our young people are the future of our churches, and their concerns and discipleship matter to us. We know the past few years have been tough for churches. We’re navigating challenging times and responding to research like this can feel like another thing to do on top of already stretched time, budget and resources. We can understand that feeling. But perhaps this research also reveals an opportunity for our churches here in Aotearoa.   

We think there’s a way we can respond to the younger generation’s call to address climate change, make our community relationships stronger—our congregations’ faith and discipleship deeper, and build a hopeful future.  

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We can get you started!  

1. Start rich conversations about climate change with your church members. Go through the Christianity and Climate Change video series with your small groups.  

2. Take action as a church community! Download our Church Action Guide for simple but powerful actions to get you started. 

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 Find out more about this research

 

Tearfund Canada and A Rocha Canada’s  
For All The Earth 
Young Christians want to act on climate change and nature loss 

 

Tearfund Australia’s 
They Shall Inherit the Earth 
An invitation for the Church to a new conversation about climate change 

 

Tearfund UK’s
Burning Down the House 
How the Church could lose young people over climate inaction 

 

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