Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton have conducted the most comprehensive and reliable research ever done on youth and religion. For the next 50 years writers on the topic will be referring to their book.
Cramming more than 50 high school students into a small room for a Bible study is challenging, but getting them to talk about sex is not. When the hand of one 15-year-old boy shot up in the back of the room, I braced myself. “Is masturbation a sin?—I really gotta know.” I was proud of him—using a word like sin is hard for a teenager.
It is highly unlikely that the late Paul Holmer ever would have read a book about youth ministry. Holmer, who taught philosophical theology at the University of Minnesota and Yale Divinity School, was not particularly interested in practical ministry studies on their own terms.
The important question about youth ministry is not “Where are the kids?” or “What should we do with them when they show up?” but “What is the nature of our community?” What are the discipleship skills appropriate to those who have moved beyond childhood, and how can a community exhibit those skills in a way that attracts the young and draws them to inspiring
Youth pastors hear an inordinate number of generalized and unsubstantiated statistics: X percent of adult Christians chose to follow Christ before the age of 18; X percent of youth workers leave the church after X months; X percent of students choose to follow Christ at a summer camp; X percent of youth leave the church after co
At one of our church’s weekly staff meetings the youth minister said he had a problem and needed his colleagues’ advice. In the course of teaching the confirmation class, he had asked the young people to write their own statement of faith. The problem, he said, was that one of the students didn’t believe much of anything, though he was happily involved in the confirmation process.
The current cohort of American teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 is lonely, spiritually hungry and intensely aware of the threat of violence. That’s the profile that emerges from a recent Gallup Youth Survey.
Are mainline churches capturing the imaginations of young people and leading them toward long-term commitments to the church?Or do they serve as revolving doors—leading one way into secularism and the other way into"hotter"forms of religiosity found in evangelicalism or non-Christian faiths?What defines a successful yo