This is an important time to focus on the spiritual development of our youth. Research into faith identity in young people reveals that they are leaving organized religion—the church. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 39% of 18- to 29-year-olds claim they are unaffiliated with religious faith (up from 23% ten years ago).
Statistics are not prophecy, but they do represent an opportunity to better engage youth in exploring together what it means to be Christ’s disciples in today’s world. An authentic Christian identity is nurtured through surprising discoveries of God, Christ-centered community, and a passionate response to a calling to serve. Living Your Faith (LYF) aims to offer these experiences to high school students and empower them from passivity to brave and faithful agency as storytellers of God’s epic narrative.
A: Living Your Faith is for high school students entering their sophomore, junior or senior year who show potential for leadership in the church. This includes teens who already know they are interested in a career in ministry, but it especially includes teens who may not be interested in a ministry career but still are involved in or have the potential to be involved in leadership roles in the church both now and in the future.
A: Yes! Please encourage any teen you know who has untapped church leadership potential to consider participating in LYF this summer. You can use our Refer a Student form [hotlink] to share their names with us, or you can simply encourage teens and their parents to visit this website to learn more. If you are a pastor, you can offer to write a LYF recommendation for a teen—something that is required of participants when they register. We know parents and involved pastors figure heavily as influential people in teens’ lives, so your encouragement could be the key to a young person’s participation in LYF and discovery of her or his call to lay or career ministry.
A: In addition to referring students for participation in LYF and completing recommendations for them if you are asked, you can also help finance your student(s) participation. LYF costs are low because they are underwritten by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, but it still can be hard for families to finance experiences like this. Your church may have funds budgeted for spiritual development activities, or you might contribute a “scholarship” to a student from your church’s endowment or other source. Ultimately, LYF will benefit not just the teen who participates, but also your youth group and church when she or he brings spiritual insights and learning to future church involvement. An investment in enabling your youth to participate in LYF will be money well spent.