Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The following is from the Barna Research Group:

Image courtesy of BarnaFilms. click for info
Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf Following Spiritually Active Teen Years
September 11, 2006

(Ventura, CA) - Transitions in life are rarely simple. Some of the most significant and complex shifts that people undergo occur during the transition from adolescence to early adulthood. An important part of that maturation is the refinement of people's spiritual commitment and behavior.

A new study by The Barna Group (Ventura, California) shows that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twentysomethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years - and often beyond that. In total, six out of ten twentysomethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood.

Teens Embrace Spirituality.
Teenagers thrive on fresh experiences and new perspectives. The spiritual dimension gives teens a fertile ground for their explorations.

50% of teens attend a church-related service or activity in a typical week.

More than75% discuss matters of faith with peers and 60% teens attend at least one youth group meeting at a church during a typical three month period.

33% of teenagers say they participate in a Christian club on campus at some point during a typical school year. There is also a substantial amount of unorthodox spiritual activity: three-quarters of America's teenaged youths have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity during their teen years (not including reading horoscopes).

Still, one of the most striking findings from the research is the broad base of opportunities that Christian churches in America have with to work with teenagers.

81% teens say they have attended a church for a period of at least two months during their teenage years. This represents substantial penetration and significant prospects for influencing the nation's 24 million teens.

But Disengagement Happens
At the same time, the Barna research underscores how fleeting that influence may be: twentysomethings continue to be the most spiritually independent and resistant age group in America. Most of them pull away from participation and engagement in Christian churches, particularly during the "college years." The research shows that, compared to older adults, twentysomethings have significantly lower levels of church attendance, time spent alone studying and reading the Bible, volunteering to help churches, donations to churches, Sunday school and small group involvement, and use of Christian media (including television, radio and magazines).

In fact, the most potent data regarding disengagement is that a majority of twentysomethings - 61% of today's young adults - had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying).

Only one-fifth of twentysomethings (20%) have maintained a level of spiritual activity consistent with their high school experiences. Another one-fifth of teens (19%) were never significantly reached by a Christian community of faith during their teens and have remained disconnected from the Christian faith.

So based on the above data from Barna, I wonder:

- Has the Church (whatever denomination or persuasion you may come from, if you're part of the 80% who were "churched" as a teen) failed to bring you to a place where interaction with others in this area of your life is relevant and exciting?

- How many of that 80% had little/no support at home? We often hear teachers bemoan the fact that they need parental help to get the educational job done because 6-7 hrs. at school each day isn't enough. Compare that with the 1 hr we often give the church and expect them to do the job of helping to shape our young people

- What is your story? Were you raised in church? Was it a significant part of your life? Is it still today? What would it take for you to consider heading back to a faith community?

Grace & peace.

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