The relationship of adolescent perceptions of peer acceptance and motivation to participate in the local congregation
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SubjectChurch work with youth.
Peer pressure in adolescence.
Peer-group church work with youth.
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The purpose of this study was to discover what, if any, relationship exists between an adolescent's perceptions of peer acceptance and their desire to be active within their local congregation in the churches where they are members. Data was based on open-ended interviews with 20 teenagers in the age range of 13 to 18 who are members of Southern Baptist churches within the state of Tennessee. The interviews were recorded and coded allowing themes to emerge using the Ethnograph 5.0. These themes were used to create a Likert-type survey instrument that the researcher distributed to over 600 teenagers who live in the state of Tennessee, are members of Southern Baptist churches, and fit the aforementioned age range. Three hundred and ninety six forms were returned and properly scanned to yield statistical data that supports the data from the open-ended interviews. The study was mixed methods research comparing the quantitative Likert survey results to the results from the qualitative open-ended interviews. Multiple displays show the quantitative data based on the themes that emerged from the qualitative interviews. Results indicate that there are significant relationships between adolescent perceptions of peer acceptance and their motivation to be active within their local congregation. Teenagers who perceived social acceptance amidst their peers within the church were more motivated to participate in youth group activities while teenagers who did not perceive social acceptance amidst said peers were less motivated to participate. The theme of "family ties" was unique in that it was the only theme indicating that some teenagers will remain active within their local congregation even when social acceptance is not prevalent. Many students indicated that strong family ties to the church where they are a member would take precedence over a lack of feeling socially accepted by their peers at church and they would, therefore, not be deterred from continuing to actively participate in the life of their local congregation. There were few significant relationships related to how the age or gender of the teenage participants influenced their perceptions of peer acceptance or how said perceptions influenced their motivation to participate in their local congregation. Older adolescents were stronger proponents for a church youth program that encourages and supports socially diverse interaction among teenagers. Keywords . Best Friends, Cliques, Family Ties, Belonging, Individuality, Social Labels, Social Structure, Support, Purpose