Kenda Creasy Dean reports in her book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church (Oxford University Press, 2010) that there are churches where young people exhibit highly devoted faith, and those churches look and act differently from other churches.
Drawing on the work of Christian Smith and Melissa Lundquist Denton in Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford University Press, 2005), she notes that these churches are more likely to have a full-time youth minister, a variety of programs for teenagers, and opportunities for youth to participate in religious practice and leadership.
And from the Exemplary Youth Ministry study, she reports that such congregations are more likely to:
- portray God as living, present and active
- place a high value on scripture
- explain their church’s mission, practices and relationships as inspired by “the life and mission of Jesus Christ”
- emphasize spiritual growth, discipleship, and vocation
- promote outreach and mission
- help teens develop “a positive, hopeful spirit,” “live out a life of service,” and “live a Christian moral life.”