17 Pages

The Relative Influence of Youth and Adult Experiences on Personal Spirituality and Church Involvement

WithThomas P. O’Connor, Dean R. Hoge, Estrelda Alexander

For personal spirituality such as private prayer, attending Bible classes, and reading religious material, a survey of 206 young adults who had grown up in middle-class churches in three denominations, Baptist, Catholic, and Methodist, found strong youth and adult determinants. Family life cycle theory states that the needs and tasks an individual must address during different parts of the family life cycle determine his or her church involvement. Social learning theory would suggest that religious learning will vary from one denomination or religious group to another depending on the kind of religious modeling and practices that are most prevalent in each group. Cultural broadening theory considers church involvement in terms of “plausibility structures”. This perspective contends that in a highly differentiated and pluralistic modern society, the maintenance of a particular religious worldview requires that a community of people support one another’s belief in it in daily interaction.