New Study Finds Young People Who Engage with Church Are Less Anxious and More Optimistic

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Key Findings:

  • Roughly one in five respondents who experience levels of anxiety (22%) attends a place of worship weekly, compared to one-third of others;
  • 51% of practising Christians stated they felt “optimistic about the future” compared with 34 % (no faith) 37% (other faith);
  • 16% of practising Christians said they felt “lonely and isolated from others”, far lower than those with no faith (31%)
  • 28% of young people often feel sad or depressed compared with 18% among practicing Christians

A report released this week has found 18-35 year olds who are engaged with church are more likely to say they are optimistic about the future, secure in who they are, able to accomplish their goals, and have someone that believes in them. The report also found the same group were less likely to say they are lonely or isolated, and anxious or uncertain about the future compared to all other faith groups and those without faith.

The global report, The Connected Generation, which was conducted by Barna Group, surveyed more than 15,000 young adults across 25 countries, and has been released in partnership with World Vision. This survey is one of the one of the largest global studies of its kind to be conducted.

World Vision International President, Andrew Morley commented,

“There’s every reason to be optimistic about the future. If we’re going to make a difference, we need a real sense of hope and passion to drive us forward and get to grips with the huge tasks before us.

“It’s encouraging to see this optimism in many practising Christians – even it’s just over half of those who were interviewed. It’s clear that church leaders have a major role in instilling optimism, empowering millennials to make a difference, and nurturing the next generation of leaders.

“I also draw inspiration from the children and communities we serve around the world. Everywhere I travel, among families facing more troubles than most of us could imagine, I see genuine hope shining through.”

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

In an effort to look into the link between personal connections and mental health, The Connected Generation engaged participants in their attitude toward religion and faith and its role in their lives. Roughly one in five respondents who experience levels of anxiety (22%) attends a place of worship weekly, compared to one-third of others. 51% of practising Christian stated they felt “optimistic about the future” compared with 34 % (no faith) and 37% (other faith), and 43% of practising Christians said they were “able to accomplish my goals”, far higher than those with no faith (29%).

The study also found Practising Christians were less likely to say they felt lonely and isolated from others (16%) than those with no faith (31%) and when asked if they felt ‘uncertain about the future’ those without faith were twice as likely to agree (51%) than those active in their faith (27%). 28% of all young people stated they often feel sad or depressed compared with 18% among practicing Christians within the same age group.

Kinnaman continues, “For years now, our team has gone to great lengths to listen to the stories and experiences of teenagers and young adults across the religious spectrum— from devoted and passionate adherents of Christianity and other faiths, to those for whom religion is an artefact of a bygone era. 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.”

Faith also played a role in how actively young people who were practising Christians engaged in voluntary work. Those who were engaged with church were more likely to regularly contribute through volunteering to their community or world (39% to 23%) and more likely to give financially to charitable causes (23% to 17%).

The full report is available in digital and print editions from today (October 15) and more details are available at





For more information, interviews or comment please contact James Pedrick, Director of Church Engagement, at


About World Vision World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation conducting relief, development and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

About Barna Group In its 30-year history, Barna Group has conducted more than one million interviews over the course of hundreds of studies, and has become a go-to source for insights about faith and culture, leadership and vocation, and generations. Barna Group has carefully and strategically tracked the role of faith in America, developing one of the nation’s most comprehensive databases of spiritual indicators. Barna Group has worked with thousands of business, nonprofit organisations and churches across the U.S. and around the world, including many protestant denominations, Catholic parishes, and faith leaders.