3 Crucial Ingredients In A Teenagers Faith

Studies confirm what we sadly already know to be true from our own experience: many kids that grow up in the church leave after they have finished high school. The reasons for this seem obvious: they are no longer under parental authority, personal ambivalence toward the faith, the more libertine values on most college campuses to name a few.

For decades, parents and churches have been trying to keep their kids from becoming a statistic by offering more relevant programming, taking students on retreats and conferences, and even adding on specially designed “youth buildings.” But are those the most important factors in determining whether the faith of a high school student survives the transition into adulthood?

Christian Smith is a sociologist with the National Study of Youth and Religion located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Along with a group of researchers he has published the findings of a massive study of adolescents and their spiritual beliefs in Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of America’s Teenagers. The research shows that there are 3 incredibly important factors that determine whether teenagers retain their faith once they are out of the house and on their own.

1. Parents. The number one factor isn’t how many times a week the kids went to church or how many missions trips they went on. The number one factor is whether they had parents that modeled genuine Christianity. In most cases students aren’t rejecting their parents’ faith but only reflecting their parents’ low level of conviction and commitment.

2. Devotions. Teenagers who establish the pattern of praying and reading the Bible for themselves are much more likely to continue the practice into adulthood. This makes sense because spiritual devotions are one of the ways that a person really begins to own their faith. And if a student can make their faith their own-instead of always leaning on parents or other adults-before they leave home, they will be prepared for the challenges that they will surely face.

3. Other Adults. Students need to have relationships with adults other than their parents who say the same things their parents do and also model genuine Christianity.

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