I had never been in a book group. I admit it. I read a lot of the books that these groups typically read and discuss but until recently, I’d never participated in the conversation that comes from them. Never say never, right? Well, several of my colleagues and I have begun meeting every other week in a book group devoted to reading about ministry with young adults. So it’s not your typical group but is fascinating nonetheless. Lately, we’ve been immersed in Christian Smith’s Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. It is full of research, charts, and statistics but it has been pure food for thought for this talkative group.
This past week I came across one chart that I’ve found myself flipping back to several times since. The book, focused on research of the spiritual lives of 18 to 23-year-olds, actually has roots much earlier than that. Smith’s initial work was with 13 to 17-year-olds (detailed in his book Soul Searching). As these young people grew, he and his team have gone back to track them now, as emerging adults. The chart that has stuck with me is one comparing the responses then and now, related to the importance of faith in daily life.
I don’t think I need to go too deep into the specifics except to say that the importance of faith in daily life decreased from the age of a high schooler to that of an emerging adult. The numbers aren’t drastic and through Smith’s interpretation I learn that the decline is not even considered major. But it did get me thinking. If faith is not a part of our daily life then what is it? And why the change from the age that typically lives in a home with parents or guardians to the age in which most of us experience our first taste of more independent living?
If faith is not a part of our daily life then what is it?
If faith was more a part of your daily life in the past, what changed?