Study finds young adults of all faiths have similar needs

A panel of young adult scholars in the US have argued that Christian, Jewish and Muslim young adult professionals all want a faith community that makes them feel valued, a worship experience that moves them and learning opportunities that allow them to question.

Catholic News Service reports on a presentation last Wednesday at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Centre in Washington DC, titled Congregations That Get It: Understanding Religious Identities in the Next Generation. It says the panelists spoke about their recent study on how faith communities in major US cities have successfully integrated young adults.

"There's an expectation that people will go through this 'black hole'" of separation from religious institutions after college, and then return after they marry and have children, as many in earlier generations did, said Tobin Belzer, a Jewish scholar and author.

But as more young adults pursue postgraduate education and tend to marry later, "we don't really know if that will happen," she added.

Each of the panelists had at least one postgraduate degree and was a research associate at the University of Southern California's Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

For the study, the team interviewed about 100 people in 15 congregations -- Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Muslim -- in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Detroit and Washington. Each of the congregations had a thriving young adult membership, although none was made up exclusively of young adults.

Among the research team's recommendations for attracting and retaining young adult congregants were:

- Create leadership positions for young adults both within their peer group and within the larger congregation.

- Underwrite the group's activities, and reduce fee structures so that membership is financially viable.

- Fund an engaging and young staff person who can cultivate a community of young congregants.

- Create social, educational, spiritual, cultural, emotional and religious points of entry for young adults, and organize affinity groups to help young congregants find like-minded peers.

- Facilitate interfaith and interdenominational exchange, with clergy setting a precedent of nonjudgment by not disparaging other religious traditions or denominations.

- Offer adult learning opportunities that are directed specifically to young congregants and their needs, backgrounds and interests.

Young adults of all faiths have similar needs, wants, study finds (Catholic News Service 3/6/05)
AP Poll: Religion Key in American Lives (Associated Press/Yahoo 6/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Centre for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California
Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies
John Paul II Cultural Centre

Archdiocese says priest can return to active duty (Boston Globe 6/6/05)
US ordinations hit record levels (The Tablet 3/6/05)

7 Jun 2005