Keeping the faith beyond the teen years
However, that was not the focus of researchers who reviewed the data from The Barna Group’s study mentioned in the story.
The study noted that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twenty-somethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years and often beyond that.
Researchers indicated that churches could do a better job at discipling teens so that they don’t fall away from the faith when they are in their twenties.
“Much of the ministry to teenagers in America needs an overhaul — not because churches fail to attract significant numbers of young people, but because so much of those efforts are not creating a sustainable faith beyond high school,” David Kinnaman, the director of research, wrote.
“There are certainly effective youth ministries across the country, but the levels of disengagement among twenty-somethings suggests that youth ministry fails too often at discipleship and faith formation. A new standard for viable youth ministry should be — not the number of attenders, the sophistication of the vents, or the ‘cool’ factor of the youth group — but whether teens have the commitment, passion and resources to pursue Christ intentionally and whole-heartedly after they leave the youth ministry nest.”
In his report Kinnaman said the Barna research team is conducting more research into what leads to a sustainable faith, but they have already observed some critical enhancements that youth workers might consider.
“One of those is to be more personalized in ministry,” Kinnaman wrote. “Every teen has different needs, questions and doubts, so helping them to wrestle through those specific issues and to understand God’s unique purpose for their lives is significant. The most effective churches have set up leadership development tracks and mentoring processes to facilitate this type of personalization.”
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