Recent research by Kenda Dean indicates that most American young people who are engaged in religion are ‘luke-warm’ about it. Is this also true of Australian teenagers? Is the church more focussed on its survival than proactively encouraging the next generation to take the reigns or even feel empowered to have an opinion about the church, faith or the future? The Australian Christian Research Association has looked critically at Dean’s work and whilst recommending it to church leaders makes some interesting comment:
In America, many young people attend, but research has indicated that they practice a highly diluted form of the Christian faith which some researchers have described as Moral Therapeutic Deism. Kenda Dean has written a book about the problem and suggested that teenagers are simply not being introduced to articulate, passionate Christian faith that changes lives. While her book contains many challenges for those involved in youth ministry and will assist us in our research on youth ministry, we wonder, however, how well she has understood the fact that young people today ‘put their own lives together’.
The CRA review can be found at their feature on Youth Ministry.
A number of links on the CRA site provide more reflection on this topic. How should ‘progressives’ be addressing the youth of today? Is the message of progressivism about ‘passion’ and ‘life changing’ understandings?