Youth research will help young people keep faith

01 June 2018

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EFC director of research Rick Hiemstra has been helping lead the Young Adult Transition Research project, made possible in part by the generosity of EFC donors. Rick shares with us what we can expect, and his personal thanks to those who support the EFC.

The 2011 Hemorrhaging Faith study revealed that Canadian Evangelicals were losing one third of our young people by the time they became young adults. The study clarified for us some of the drivers and barriers to faith among our young people. So much has changed since then, but letting them slip quietly out the back door of the Church is still a major concern.

The latest EFC project to address this concern began in 2015, when the EFC started a research partnership with Power to Change–Students, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Youth for Christ, Truth Matters Ministries, and The Muskoka Woods Leadership Studio.

It examines how we could help young adults stay connected to church and faith as they move from high school to the next phase in life. This project was named the Young Adult Transition Research (YATR) study – the resulting report is called Renegotiating Faith and will be released in the fall.

For nearly three years, we have been talking with young adults and ministry experts about their experiences. We’ve been reading what others have written. We’ve conducted large national surveys with both young adults and ministry experts – and we have analyzed and prayed over what we discovered. We have consulted widely, testing our findings with the lived experience of those who minister with youth and young adults.

What we have unearthed can change how we do youth ministry in Canada today, especially during times of transitions. Doing this research with a partnership has been especially powerful and significant. Few denominations or ministry organizations have the capacity to do national ministry research on their own.

Research partnerships build ministry networks and trust within the church in Canada, and we have seen that happen through the YATR partnership. These broad ministry partnerships help shape our research to Canadian realities and builds confidence in the relevance of the findings. We are grateful for the partnership that has brought YATR into the world.

On May 15, we gathered more than 100 ministry experts in Burlington, Ont., for a first look at the YATR findings. We’re still learning, and we are convinced that God has given His wisdom to His church. We asked these experts to help us understand and apply what we’ve learned. Over the summer we’ll be incorporating their insights, and the insights of others into the final report that will be released in the fall.

We have learned just how important local churches are for the spiritual well-being of our young adults – especially when they are networked with other churches and ministries. We have also learned the profound influence home church mentors have on the spiritual lives of young people.

The YATR ministry research partnership wants Renegotiating Faith to be a gift to the Canadian Church. We are happy to make Renegotiating Faith freely available as a PDF download, and we will let you know when it is available. We believe these findings will make an eternal difference in the lives of many of our young people and in their churches. There will be practical applications that every church and ministry can start right away that will make a difference in the lives of our young people.

Thank you for supporting this Canadian ministry research. The Apostle Paul and the Philippian church set a pattern for ministry partnerships that was forwardlooking and Kingdom-focused (Philippians 4). YATR has been just such a partnership. Many of you have participated in the surveys or interviews and/or supported the EFC or one of our partners financially. All of us care deeply about the faith of our young people and their capacity to step up and lead in the church. You make national Canadian research possible with your ongoing support.

Young adults will be blessed because EFC donors believe in the Canadian Church and top-notch Canadian research. Thank you!

What you can do

  • Pray for the coming weeks of report writing and finalizing.
  • When Renegotiating Faith is available, download it for free! Share it widely.
  • Let your church leaders and denominations know about Renegotiating Faith. Offer it to them as the gift it is.

Also in this issue: The power of partnerships in EFC research - What some of the partners say about the Young Adult Transition Research project; Latest webinars and podcast resources; Palliative care toolkit; Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues; Message from the president; And more.