Level of religiousness In the book Souls in Transition by Christian Smith with Patricia Snell, the authors summarize the dynamics that make it most likely for a teenager with strong faith to become a young adult with what they call low “religiousness.” The statistical data is impressive and a bit overwhelming. If I’m reading it correctly, there are three primary factors that lead a teenager with high religiousness to becoming a young adult with low religiousness. These factors are lack of strong parental ties to religion, doubts about faith, and decrease in the practicing of faith activities, such as worship, prayer and service. The authors note that consistent high religiousness of young adults contain the same dynamics, but expressed positively. Check out Chapter 8 of Souls in Transition, which was produced by the authors noted above and Kyle Longest.
Welcoming young adults These results suggest some principles for congregations that want to be in relationship with young adults. The principles include:
- showing emphatic curiosity about family of origin commitments to faith and providing modeling of faith for young adults;
- opportunities to explore a range of spiritual practices;
- and openings for service.
Engaging the individuals These are principles. There are no best practices providing a magical answer for your congregation and its relationship to young adults. In fact, the use of the word “they” is a sign of the challenge. In this short piece, I’m already referring to young adults as an undifferentiated mass of folks. You will know your congregation is engaging young adults when this group is no longer a “they,” but people with names and faces: Jill, Jose, L.D, Samson, Lori and a holy host of others. This is sacred ground. There is much to absorb. If you are interested in learning more about your congregation and young adults, search young adults on the CRG.
I recommend these two books: Souls in Transition and You Lost Me.