Young People’s Faith Doesn’t Grow in a Vacuum

*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on EurekAlert.

Young people who are given a religious upbringing at home by both parents have the strongest faith in God throughout their adolescence. Distancing from and wavering in faith are also less likely among them. They are also clearly different from their peers who are given a religious upbringing by one parent only, or by neither.

The findings were reported in the British Journal of Religious Education. The 10-year longitudinal study explored changes in faith in the transition to adulthood from the viewpoint of religious upbringing at home. The study participants, 14 -15-year-old adolescents confirmed in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, were followed up until they reached the age of 25. The study especially focused on young people who were not given a religious upbringing at home: how do they differ from those who have been given a religious upbringing, could their faith become stronger in the transition to adulthood, and which factors play a role.

“In roughly half of the young people studied, their faith remained fairly stable from the age of 15 to the age of 25. However, one in three became more distant from faith, both according to their own assessment and a longitudinal analysis. One in seven felt they had become closer to God or that their faith had become stronger,” says Professor of Practical Theology Kati Tervo-Niemelä from the University of Eastern Finland.

According to Professor Tervo-Niemelä, other religious influences also tend to accumulate in young people who have been given a religious upbringing at home, whereas young people who do not get a religious upbringing at home are less likely to get it elsewhere, either.

“Many of the young people studied said that they were surrounded by a non-religious atmosphere everywhere, including among friends and family.”

Young people who were not given a religious upbringing at home were also more likely to become distant from faith after the confirmation period, although this period was often experienced as faith-growing.

“It is noteworthy that the developmental path of young people who were given a religious upbringing by one parent only is closer to that of young people who were not given a religious upbringing by neither of the parents, than to that of young people who have been given a religious upbringing by both parents.”

The findings of the study highlight the importance of both parents as role models in a young person’s religious growth.

Source: EurekAlert!

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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