The relationship between youth ministry involvement and faith maturity in first-year students in a Christian college
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SubjectChurch work with youth.
Christian college students--Religious life.
Church college students--Religious life.
One of the central priorities for youth ministry professionals, both pastors and parachurch workers, is the development of mature faith in adolescents. Research on adolescent religiosity has provided some insight into the nature of adolescent religious participation, the effect that religious participation has on adolescent well-being, and the factors that relate to faith maturity, primarily parental and peer relationships. Yet little research has analyzed the relationship between faith maturity and youth ministry involvement. Thus, the purpose of this study is to analyze the relationship between youth ministry involvement and the Faith Maturity Scale scores of first-year students attending a Council for Christian Colleges and Universities affiliated school. Data for this study was gathered using a survey, developed for this study, which assessed each participant's involvement with various youth ministry spiritual growth factors as identified based in the youth ministry precedent literature (relationships, balanced programming, and spiritual disciplines). The survey also utilized the Faith Maturity Scale as a measure of the participants' level of maturity in the Christian faith. Analysis of the data revealed statistically significant relationships between faith maturity and each of the youth ministry factors and subfactors with two exceptions. The worship subfactor of the balanced programming factor revealed no statistically significant correlation with faith maturity. Additional insight was gained into each factor through a series of Likert-response items related to each factor. There were also significant gender-based differences in the patterns of correlation between youth ministry involvement and faith maturity. For females, there was a strong correlation between involvement with the youth ministry factors and faith maturity. For males, there were fewer statistically significant relationships and, for those that were significant, the relationships were weaker. Finally, this study also found some variations in the relationship between youth ministry involvement and faith maturity based on subgroup analysis related to the intervening variables of home influence, peer influence, type of youth ministry, type of secondary school, and number of years as a Christian, though the small size of some subgroups limited the ability to draw conclusions.