Teen Influences On Church Dropouts
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Teen Influences On Church Dropouts

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Research about young adults leaving the church, by Ed Stetzer. More here:

Research about young adults leaving the church, by Ed Stetzer. More here:
http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/mainpage/0%2C1701%2CM%25253D200767%2C00.html

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Teen Influences On Church Dropouts Teen Influences On Church Dropouts Presentation Transcript

  • Teen Influences on Church Dropouts Spring 2007
  • Report Contents
    • Methodology & Terminology 3
    • Key Findings 5
    • Teen Church Attendance 12
    • Family Influences on Teens 15
    • Church Investment in Teens 24
    • Teen Church Involvement 28
    • Teen Views of the Church they Attended 36
    • Teen Impressions of Church Members 41
    • Influence of Education on Teens 45
    • Combined Impact of Influences 49
  • Methodology
    • Survey of Young Adults ages 18-30 in April-May 2007
    • Sample size of 1,023 provides 95% confidence that sampling error does not exceed + 3.1%
    • Eligible respondents attended a Protestant church regularly (twice a month or more) for at least a year in high school
    • The web survey utilized a representative national panel of Americans
      • Panels have been utilized by research firms such as the Gallup Organization and National Family Opinion (NFO) for over 60 years
      • Online panels have been heavily utilized by Gallup, NFO, Harris Interactive and others for over 10 years
      • Panels facilitate accurate sampling and high response rates and ensure that emerging generations without telephone landlines are included
  • Terminology
    • Dropouts – Church “Dropouts” are defined as those who “stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22”
    • Statistically Significant – If this population were randomly surveyed over and over, the noted difference in responses would be repeated almost every time (in technical terms: the difference cannot be attributed to random variation alone). Note: the fact that statistical significance is detected does not always mean that practical significance is present.
    • Regression – A predictive equation developed using applicable past data. One “dependent variable” is being predicted, in this case dropping out of church. Other independent variables (the past data) are tested and included in the equation based on their ability to predict dropping out of church correctly in this young adult population. The regression does not show cause and effect, but does show the level of dependence on this past data for an accurate prediction.
    • Key Findings
  • Key Findings
    • Characteristics with the greatest combined impact on the ability to predict if a young adult will drop out or continue attending church:
    • Teens wanting the church to help guide their decisions in everyday life
    • Teens who at age 17 have parents who are still married to each other and both attending church
    • Teens who find their pastors’ sermons relevant to their life
    • Teens who have had at least 1 adult from church make a significant investment in them personally and spiritually between the ages of 15 and 18
  • Key Findings
    • Families have a large role to play – being proactive and consistent
    • Those who stayed in church compared to those who dropped out:
    • 20% more of those who stay indicate they had parents or family members who provided them with spiritual guidance (79% vs. 59%)
    • 20% more of those who continue attending indicate their family regularly discussed spiritual things (50% vs. 30%)
    • 20% more of those who stay indicate their family prayed together regularly (42% vs. 22%)
  • Key Findings
    • Families have a large role to play – being authentic examples
    • Those who stayed in church compared to those who dropped out:
    • 22% more of those who continue attending indicate that at age 17 their parents attended the same church (58% vs. 36%)
    • 19% more of those who stay in church indicate that at age 17 their father attended church (51% vs. 32%)
    • 19% more of those who stay in church indicate they had parents or family members who actively served in the church (50% vs. 31%)
    • 18% more of those who stay in church indicate they had parents who expressed that they expected them to continue attending church after age 17 (57% vs. 39%)
    • 18% more of those who continue attending indicate they had parents or family members who genuinely liked church (85% vs. 67%)
  • Key Findings
    • Churches must prove the value of church to teens – demonstrating importance, relevance, and a welcoming environment
    • Those who stayed in church compared to those who dropped out:
    • 22% more of those who stay indicate they agree* that their church was important in their life (76% vs. 54%)
    • 21% more of those who stay in church indicate they agree* the pastor’s sermons were relevant to their life (63% vs. 42%)
    • 20% more of those who continue attending indicate they agree* the worship style was appealing to them (69% vs. 49%)
    • 19% more of those who stay indicate they agree* their church was a welcoming environment for people in their life stage (73% vs. 54%) and that they felt “at home” at church (69% vs. 50%)
    *Selected a 4 or a 5 on a 5-point scale in which “1” = Strongly Disagree and “5” = Strongly Agree.
  • Key Findings
    • Churches must prove the value of church to teens – applying truth, investing time and giving responsibility to teens
    • Those who stayed in church compared to those who dropped out:
    • 30% more of those who stay in church indicate they wanted the church to help guide their decisions in everyday life (76% vs. 46%)
    • 20% more of those who stay indicate they had an adult who spent time with them regularly to help them grow spiritually (55% vs. 35%)
    • 18% more of those who stay in church indicate they had 5 or more adults from church who made a significant investment in them personally and spiritually between ages 15 and 18 (46% vs. 28%)
    • 16% more of those who continue attending indicate they had regular responsibilities at church (47% vs. 31%)
  • Key Findings
    • Other characteristics also have influence – school, Bible reading, and church members
    • Attending a Christian school corresponds to lower dropout rates than other types of high schools (51% drop out vs. 65% of all 18-30 year olds surveyed)
    • Attending home school corresponds to lower dropout rates than other types of high schools (56% drop out vs. 65% of all 18-30 year olds surveyed)
    • 19% more of those who stay in church indicate they spent regular time reading the Bible privately (61% vs. 42% of dropouts)
    • 15% fewer of those who continue attending indicate their impression of church members was that they were disapproving of those who didn’t meet their expectations regarding jobs, school, marriage, etc. (19% vs. 34% of dropouts)
    • Teen Church Attendance
  • In middle school, dropouts indicate they attended church twice-a-month just as often as those who stayed in church Q1a. At which of the following ages did you regularly attend church (by “regularly attend,” we mean attend at least twice a month for three or more months)? Base: All (n=1,023 through age 18) Consistent twice-a-month attendance does result in lower likelihood of dropping out of church, but among 18-30 year olds who did so from under age 14 through age 17, 55% still dropped out (vs. 65% total)
  • Fewer dropouts indicate twice-a-month attendance beginning at age 16 Q1a. At which of the following ages did you regularly attend church (by “regularly attend,” we mean attend at least twice a month for three or more months)? Base: All (n=1,023 through age 18) *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant Half of dropouts still attend twice a month at Age 17 By Age 18 the difference in attendance between dropouts and those who stay is dramatic
    • Family Influences on Teens
  • Family Influences Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023)
    • Not surprisingly teen attendance mirrors their parents’
    • Only 19% of teens who regularly attended worship indicate their parents/family did not attend church regularly
    • Only 8% of teens who had parents/family attending church regularly indicate they did not attend worship regularly themselves
    • Among ALL young adults, most indicate they had positive family influences, prior to turning 18:
    • 76% indicate parents or family members attended church regularly
    • 73% indicate parents or family members genuinely liked church
    • 66% indicate parents or family members provided spiritual guidance
  • Dropouts are less likely to say they had direct spiritual guidance and a genuine example from their family as teens Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) *All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant
  • As teens, 20% fewer dropouts indicate their families had positive attitudes toward church than those who stayed Q9. Which of the following describe your parents’ attitudes toward religion/church attendance through your teenage years (prior to turning 18)? Base: All (n=1,023) *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant
  • Prior to age 18, more dropouts indicate their families were negative examples about church than those who stayed Q9. Which of the following describe your parents’ attitudes toward religion/church attendance through your teenage years (prior to turning 18)? Base: All (n=1,023) *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant
  • Parents’ harmony in marriage and church is more common among those who continue attending church Q10a. At age 17, which of the following applied to your parents? Base: All (n=1,023) *All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant
  • While more mothers attend church, the father’s attendance makes a bigger impact on the decision to stay in church Q10a. At age 17, which of the following applied to your parents? Base: All (n=1,023) *All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant
  • Parents’ expectations matter
    • My parents or family members expressed that they expected me to continue attending church after age 17 *
    • Examples of how parents expressed their expectations
    • “ They encouraged me to join a church when I went away to college.”
    • “ They came right out and said it.”
    • “ They bought me Bibles as graduation presents and talked about me meeting a future spouse at church.”
    • “ They encouraged me to be active in church for the rest of my life.”
    Q9. Which of the following describe your parents’ attitudes toward religion/church attendance through your teenage years (prior to turning 18)? Base: All (n=1,023) Q9a In what ways did your parents/family members express that they expected you to continue attending church after age 17? Base: Q9=Parents expected *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant
  • More examples of how parents expressed their expectations
    • “ We talked about the importance of church.”
    • “ Prior to age 18 I attended church youth activities 4-5 days a week, so I expect that they expected me to continue doing so after age 17.”
    • “ They didn’t say anything in particular, I just knew that they expected it.”
    • They expressed it “by raising me up attending church.”
    • It was “implied, because they do.”
    • They “asked continuously if I was still attending church.”
    • “ When I went off to college, they checked up on me in a loving way to make sure I was attending church.”
    • They “continuously asked me to go and why I wasn’t going.”
    • “ The rule was as long as you’re living under our roof you will go to church on Sunday.
    Q9a In what ways did your parents/family members express that they expected you to continue attending church after age 17? Base: Q9=Parents expected
    • Church Investment in Teens Between Ages 15 and 17
  • Adults investing time in a teen’s spiritual growth Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) 42 percent of young adults indicate that prior to turning 18: “An adult spent time with me regularly to help me grow spiritually”* *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant
  • Adults from church investing in teens
    • Based on the indications of young adults: the investment of multiple adults from church in their personal and spiritual life as teens directly corresponds with a lower likelihood of dropping out of church
    Q6a. How many adults from church do you feel made a significant investment in you personally and spiritually between the ages of 15 and 18? Base: All (n=1,023) Adults Making a Significant Investment in Teen’s Life Between Ages 15 and 18 None : 89% dropped out 1 : 76% dropped out 2 : 68% dropped out 3 or 4 : 59% dropped out 5 or 6 : 57% dropped out 7 or more : 50% dropped out Among young adults indicating:
  • Adults from church investing in teens
    • When less than two adults make a significant personal and spiritual investment in a teen between ages 15 and 18, he/she is more likely to drop out ; when 5 or more adults invest, a teen is less likely to drop out
    Q6a. How many adults from church do you feel made a significant investment in you personally and spiritually between the ages of 15 and 18? Base: All (n=1,023) *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant
    • Teen Church Involvement Prior to Age 18
  • Attendance and participation prior to age 18 among ALL young adults Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) Although inclusion in this study only required that young people attend a Protestant church for at least a year in high school, a large majority indicate church activities characterized their life prior to turning 18:
    • I regularly attended worship services 86%
    • I participated in church youth group activities 74%
    • I attended a small group, Sunday school, or discipleship class 66%
    • I attended a Christian camp 53%
    • I participated in service projects through church 52%
    • I consistently gave financially to the church 41%
    • I participated in mission trips 29%
  • Friends and responsibility at church prior to age 18 among ALL young adults Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023)
    • I had regular responsibilities at church 37%
    • I held a leadership position in my activities at church 25%
    • My group of friends respected peers who attended church 58%
    While the majority of young adults indicate they had positive peer pressure to attend church as teens, a significant minority lack any positive influence from friends to attend In contrast to high levels of attendance and participation, relatively few young adults indicate they were given regular responsibility within church as teens
  • Personal desires and activities related to church prior to age 18 among ALL young adults Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) Among those teens who had confidence in their own beliefs, only a third did not want the church to help guide their decisions – 83% of these dropped out of church between ages 18-22
    • I had a strong personal belief system in place 71%
    • I spent regular time in prayer privately 64%
    • I wanted the church to help guide my decisions in everyday life 57%
    • I spent regular time reading the Bible privately 49%
  • More of those who stay are involved in church activities (before age 18) than those who dropout Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023)
    • Those who stayed in church compared to those who dropped out:
    • DESIRE : 30% more of those who stay indicate they wanted the church to help guide their decisions in everyday life (76% vs. 46%)
    • BIBLE : 19% more of those who stay indicate they spent regular time reading the Bible privately (61% vs. 42%)
    • RESPONSIBILITY : 16% more of those who stay indicate they had regular responsibilities at church (47% vs. 31%)
  • More of those who stay are involved in church activities (before age 18) than those who dropout Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) *All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant
  • Dropouts had less responsibility at church and less positive peer pressure than those who stayed in church Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) *All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant
  • Thirty percent more of those who stay wanted the church to help guide their decisions in everyday life as teens Q6b. Please indicate whether each of the following statements applies to your life prior to turning 18 and whether it applies to your life through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) *All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant
    • Teen Views of the Church They Attended Prior to Age 18
  • Among ALL young adults, at least half viewed the church they attended positively prior to age 18 Attractive Worship Agree * The worship style was appealing to me 56% The pastor’s sermons were engaging 54% The pastor’s sermons were relevant to my life 50% * Selected a 4 or a 5 on a 5-point scale in which “1” = Strongly Disagree and “5” = Strongly Agree Complementary of Atmosphere Agree * My church was a welcoming environment for people in my life stage 60% Other people like me attended the church 60% My church offered appealing activities or small group studies for people in my life stage 58% I felt “at home” at church 57% My church was a source of support during personal crises 48% Similar Perspective Agree * I agreed with beliefs taught in my church 69% My church was important in my life 62% I agreed with my church’s political perspective 52% Q7. Please indicate your level of agreement with each of the following statements about the church you attended as they pertain to your perceptions prior to turning 18 and whether they apply to your perceptions through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023)
  • The perspective on church (prior to age 18) is more positive among those who stay in church than among dropouts
    • Those who stayed in church compared to those who dropped out:
    • IMPORTANCE : 22% more of those who stay indicate they agree* that their church was important in their life (76% vs. 54%)
    • RELEVANCE : 21% more of those who stay indicate they agree* that the pastor’s sermons were relevant to their life (63% vs. 42%)
    • WORSHIP : 20% more of those who stay indicate they agree* that the worship style was appealing to them (69% vs. 49%)
    • WELCOMING : 19% more of those who stay indicate they agree* that their church was a welcoming environment for people in their life stage (73% vs. 54%) and that they felt “at home” at church (69% vs. 50%)
    Q7. Please indicate your level of agreement with each of the following statements about the church you attended as they pertain to your perceptions prior to turning 18 and whether they apply to your perceptions through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023) * Selected a 4 or a 5 on a 5-point scale in which “1” = Strongly Disagree and “5” = Strongly Agree
  • Young adults’ perspective on church attended prior to age 18 *Selected a 4 or a 5 on a 5-point scale in which “1” = Strongly Disagree and “5” = Strongly Agree. All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant Q7. Please indicate your level of agreement with each of the following statements about the church you attended as they pertain to your perceptions prior to turning 18 and whether they apply to your perceptions through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023)
  • Young adults’ perspective on church attended prior to age 18 *Selected a 4 or a 5 on a 5-point scale in which “1” = Strongly Disagree and “5” = Strongly Agree. All differences in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” are statistically significant Q7. Please indicate your level of agreement with each of the following statements about the church you attended as they pertain to your perceptions prior to turning 18 and whether they apply to your perceptions through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,023)
    • Teen Impressions of Church Members Prior to Age 18
  • Among ALL young adults, twice as many indicate positive impressions of church members than negative prior to age 18
    • Impressions of church members in general prior to age 18
    • 65% Welcoming (made me feel like part of the church)
    • 64% Authentic/Real 25% Hypocritical
    • 62% Caring 21% Insincere
    • 48% Inspirational (like role models) 16% Legalistic
    • 45% Politically conservative 15% Lenient
    • 36% Cliquish 13% Politically liberal
    • 36% Judgmental
    • 29% Disapproving of those who didn’t meet their expectations regarding jobs, school, marriage, etc.
    Q8. Please indicate which of the following statements describe your impression of church members in general prior to turning 18 and which statements describe your impression through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,004)
  • Dropouts indicate less positive impressions of church members before age 18 than those who stayed in church Q8. Please indicate which of the following statements describe your impression of church members in general prior to turning 18 and which statements describe your impression through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,004) *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant
  • Dropouts indicate more negative impressions of church members before age 18 than those who stayed in church Q8. Please indicate which of the following statements describe your impression of church members in general prior to turning 18 and which statements describe your impression through ages 18-22. Base: All (n=1,004) *Difference in percentages between “dropouts” and those who “stayed” is statistically significant
    • Influence of Education on Teens
  • College attendance has no impact on the church dropout rate of young adults
    • Among 23-30 year olds, there is no significant difference in the church dropout rate between those who attend at least some college and those who do not
    Stopped attending church for at least a year between ages 18-22 S3. Did you stop attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22? Base: Ages 23-30. S4. Highest level of education: Some college or higher (n=413), High school graduate or less (n=319)
  • Types of high school attended can have some impact on the likelihood a young adult drops out of church Q14a. Please indicate the type of schools/colleges you have attended? Base: Public (n=830) Private (n=64) Catholic (n=53) Christian (n=93) Home School (n=104) *Difference in percentages between those who “dropped out” and the total dropout rate for 18-30 year olds (65%) is statistically significant Note: Respondents could indicate attending more than one type of school There is no statistically significant difference in the dropout rate for those attending a public high school, but the dropout rate is lower for those attending home school or a Christian school (other than Catholic) Type of high schools attended Public : 65% dropped out Private (not Christian) : 69% dropped out Catholic : 63% dropped out Other Christian : 51% dropped out* Home school : 56% dropped out* Among young adults ages 18-30 indicating:
  • Types of college or university attended can have some impact on the likelihood a young adult drops out of church Q14a. Please indicate the type of schools/colleges you have attended? Base: State (n=302) Christian (n=92) Other Private (n=67) *Difference in percentages between those who “dropped out” and the total dropout rate for 18-30 year olds (65%) is statistically significant Note: Respondents could indicate attending more than one type of school There is no statistically significant difference in the dropout rate for those attending a state colleges (the largest group), but the rate is lower for those attending Christian colleges/universities (other than Catholic) Type of college or university attended State : 69% dropped out Christian : 46% dropped out* Other private : 70% dropped out Catholic : Small sample size Other religious : Small sample size Among young adults ages 18-30 indicating:
    • Combined Impact of Influences on Teens
  • Many aspects of a teens’ environment, behavior, and attitude correspond to dropping out of church between ages 18-22
    • Many of the characteristics of teens tested show strong statistical correlation with the decision to later drop out of church
    • However there is much overlap (correlation) between these characteristics – combined, each contributes only a little more to the ability to predict whether someone will dropout of church
    • Clearly, these factors do not dictate what young people will decide, but their influence calls parents and the church to faithful action:
      • Statistically, the factors identified in this study alone predict 32% of dropout behavior – plenty to affirm that investment in teens matters!
      • The outcome goes beyond what people can control and depends on God’s grace
      • Regardless of the external factors involved, students are ultimately responsible for their decisions
    Based on stepwise regression analysis. 26 independent variables and 816 observations were used in the model. Linear regression results: R 2 =0.316, Adjusted R 2 =0.293 F value=14.01 Probability > F=.0001
  • Together, the characteristics tested predict about 32% of the variance in dropout behavior When combined, the following characteristics are most predictive of continuing to attend church:
    • I wanted the church to help guide my decisions in everyday life (prior to age 18)
    • At age 17 my parents were still married to each other and both attended church
    • The pastor’s sermons were relevant to my life (prior to age 18)
    • At least 1 adult from church made a significant investment in me personally and spiritually between the ages of 15 and 18
    Based on stepwise regression analysis. Listed in order of their loading/ contribution to the predictiveness (R 2 ) of the model. 26 independent variables and 816 observations were used in the model. Linear regression results: R2=0.316, Adjusted R2=0.293 F value=14.01 Probability > F=.0001