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Best Resources for Youth Research

Youth and young adult research:

Resources for American Christianity serves as an archival site for material developed by selected religion research and information sites funded by the Lilly Endowment. Its material can help congregations, scholars and the public better understand the impact, trends and trajectories of Christianity in American society. Resources include articles, projects, research and interviews about: 

• Youth Ministry

• Adolescents

• Young Adults

• Youth Groups

In particular, read the interviews on African American youth ministry (located under the “Interviews” subheading) with Anne Streaty Wimberly, Don Richter's interview on the spiritual formation of young people, Brad Christerso's interview on how American teens experience life, Carol Lytch's interview on why teens choose church and Kenda Creasy Dean's interview on young people’s faith and youth ministry.  Also, consider Dorothy Bass and Mark Schwehn's interview on leading lives that matter and William Placher's interview on college students discerning their callingSome key articles include the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project, and Claremont Program Takes Dramatic Approach to Develop Teen Leadership.

The 2001 U.S. Congregational Life Survey discovered that congregations that exhibit a vitality that is “beyond the ordinary” have 10 primary strengths. One is that “ministry for children and teenagers in these places is seen as one of the most valued pieces of the congregation’s work.” But that shouldn’t be taken for granted. “In the typical congregation, fewer than one in five worshipers lists programs for children and youth as one of the things they value most about the congregation.” 

The National Study of Youth and Religion offers data that can enhance our understanding of the religious lives of American youth from adolescence into young adulthood. 

The Association of Religion Data Archives houses data from high-caliber studies on many topics, including several that explore youth and religion. For example, find data from the National Study of Youth and Religion; the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, Wave 1; the Pew Research Center’s Mid-November Survey, 2001; the Young Adolescents and Their Parents: A National Study, 1984; and the Presbyterian Panel Survey, August 1992: Christian Education and Nurture.

Faith Communities Today, powered by a consortium of researchers and scholars representing more than 25 faith communities and institutions, develops common survey instruments to successfully elicit key information across faith, ethnic and cultural traditions. Their common questionnaire makes it possible to draw statistically valid comparisons across faith traditions, including in the area of youth’s lives, practices and involvements in their religious communities. Reports are available for free PDF download.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research conducts research on a wide variety of religion topics, including studies on youth and religion. The Institute also publishes articles and data in its Religion & Family section.

Faith & Leadership, a forum for Christian leaders sponsored by Leadership Education at the Duke Divinity School, provides links to articles about youth that are anchored in scholarly research.

The National Congregations Study surveyed faith communities by identifying key people (such as clergy or congregational leaders) in U.S. faith communities and asking them about their congregations’ social composition, structure, activities and programs. A few questions were dedicated to the participation of youth, yielding some data. Look for variables related to youth and teens in the studies from 1998 and 2006-07.

Find more about youth and young adults by visiting the Insights Into Religion Youth in Congregations and Youth Research sections.




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