In a large Canadian study, Renegotiating Faith, conducted by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and others, there is some encouraging news amidst many concerns related to the faith persistence of millennials.
This recent study (Autumn 2018) was a follow up to the 2011 study, Hemorrhaging Faith, which documented that one in three high school students raised in Christian homes dropped out of church and often from the faith after entering the work force or receiving university or college education.
This new study, Renegotiating Faith offers some good news and explains why some young adults stick with their faith and what best practices churches can adopt to ensure this happens more frequently.
The study found evidence of the importance of the local church in the discipleship of young adults, especially when they are also networking with others, churches, and para-church ministries.
A couple of discoveries in the study was the profound influence older church mentors have in the discipleship of our young people. In fact, these young adults who were mentored or disciple one-on-one were three times more likely to connect with a new church or campus ministry upon leaving their parents’ home and bound for post-secondary education.
Young adults who had been to Christian camps as a teen were roughly three times more likely to connect with a campus ministry and two times more likely to join a new church.
Those young adults who sustained Christian friends or more precisely, faith-reinforcing friendships, were more likely to experience faith persistence.
The study also indicates that those who took a gap year to pursue a one-year discipleship program were more likely to attend religious services while away from home.
Young adults who went straight into post-secondary studies following high school fared worse in all measures of faith persistence.
Interestingly, any young adult whose home church intentionally seeks to connect their teens to a new church, discovered there was a three times better chance they’ll connect with the new church.
And roughly three-quarters of young adults who do connect with a new church do so within the first month of starting their new school. Timing does matter. However, only three in 10 youth ministry workers or pastors indicated a ministry plan in their church to make this happen.
|Group of kids at Christian camp|
Best practices to ensure faith persistence:
- Mentoring or discipleship as teens
- Attend Christian camp
- Faith-reinforced friendships
- Discipleship program during gap year
- Connecting in first 30 days of school transition
These are some helpful things local churches could do to develop ministries that help ensure greater faith persistence among our millennial believers.