Tag Archives: teens

Can you articulate what you believe?

One of the findings from the authors of Soul Searching: Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers is that the vast majority of American teenagers are extremely inarticulate about their faith. They simply couldn’t answer basic questions about their core religious beliefs.

Perhaps they lacked knowledge, or didn’t believe much at all. Perhaps a bigger reason was that they were never asked by anyone to articulate their faith. As someone who works with youth, this was eye opening. It made me realize the importance of giving teenagers (and adults for the matter) opportunities to verbalize what they believe and why.

Another interpretation for the data not posited by the authors is that some kids simply have a lot of scattered knowledge and religious information that they simply don’t know where to begin when asked the incredibly broad question, “What are your religious beliefs?” I mean, would you know how to answer that question?

In this regard, it might be worthwhile not just to have knowledge, but an overall framework to put that knowledge in, or at least have an organized way of expressing it.

Sometime next week I’ll propose one way of expressing your faith in a (relatively) brief and organized manner but I’m curious, how would you, dear reader, answer the question “what are your religious beliefs?” I don’t just mean the content of your faith but how you would organize it.

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Your teen wants to go to church more, not less.

One of the more surprising findings from the National Study on Youth and Religion as reported in the book Soul Searching is that, as a whole, teens report that they want to attend religious service more often than they are currently attending.

“U.S. teens as a group profess to want to attend religious services not less, but actually more than they currently do. Some of this difference could be mere wishful thinking, with the effect of making teens feel better about themselves… On the other hand, at least some of the teens we interviewed did report uncooperative parents and transportation problems preventing them from attending religious services more often than they did.” (Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers)

My recent experience matches this finding. Not long ago, one family in our church has gone out of their way to invite teens from our after school program to our morning services and, a bit to my surprise, they’ve been coming, and coming back. There is a spiritual hunger in teens we sometimes underestimate.