Last July, a new report called Renegotiating Faith (RF) was launched from a research partnership between Power 2 Change, InterVarsity, Youth for Christ, Truth Matters Ministries, and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. Renegotiating Faith looks at the transition from high school to the next stage in life for Canadians age 18 to 28 who had a Christian religious affiliation as a teen and who attended religious services at least monthly at some point during their teen years. Some key findings emerged.
While these findings are not causal, they do acknowledge some key correlations between these factors and the continued ownership of faith in young adults. Here are some initial notable quotes from the executive summary. (A future blog post will highlight more notables.)
RF identified 3 assumptions which proved to be false.
The first assumption was that there was a crisp transition and if we could just help young adults across this line they’d be able to take it from there – this is usually not the case. The second assumption was that young adults approached this post-high school transition with a faith they considered their own, we simply needed to help them tend it – most, though, do not yet have a firmly established, fully owned faith. The third assumption was that the transition from high school to post-high school was the same as the transition from being a teenager to being an adult. For most young adults, there is an intervening period commonly called emerging adulthood between the teen years and adulthood (p.15).
(Which one jumped out the most to you?)
Young adults who had home church mentors were more than three times as likely to connect with new churches or parishes after moving out of their parents’ home and to connect with a Christian campus group after starting postsecondary studies… Mentors seem to have their most positive impact on religious persistence when they continue to walk with young adults into and through emerging adulthood (p.11).
As young adults are renegotiating their faith, mentors offer opportunities for them to process their thoughts about faith and how to negotiate issues in faith. Mentors provide safe places to wrestle with faith and assist in discerning the Holy Spirit’s directives. They are also key in helping bridge young adults to their next chapter. Since they are given a high level of trust, it’s imperative for the mentor to help extend that trust to another person/community who can be part of that person’s next life chapter.
Young adults who had been involved with Christian camps either as teen campers or camp staff were roughly three times as likely to connect with a Christian campus group and at least twice as likely to connect with a new church or parish after having moved out (p.11).
Community is key to our sense of self and our faith. The bridges between these communities help young adults to track forward in their faith development. Helping to build that sense of belonging in the initial community is vital. However, that home church/community must also be a part of extending that “sense” to their next community.
Young adults often find non-confrontational ways to exit the church: even when they reject their parents’ faith, they often find ambiguous ways to express their disagreement, so that parents can plausibly figure their children still share their beliefs (p.11).
Most people, especially in personal relationships, tend to avoid direct conflict. Young adults have shown that their exodus is neither abrupt nor explicit. Rather, for a variety of reasons, they slowly withdraw from the community and ultimately the faith.
So far, which one strikes you as most profound (or resonates with you)?
You can download the report at renegotiatingfaith.ca.
PS – CBOQ’s “Transitions” booklet was cited in the report. See if you can find those citations.