Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Religious Education, PhD

First Advisor

Roger L. Dudley

Second Advisor

O. Jane Thayer

Third Advisor

John Youngsberg

Abstract

Problem. Why do some Seventh-day Adventist youth leave the church in North America? The proportion of the youth who disaffiliate themselves from the church is considered to be a problem of serious concern for parents, teachers, other religious educators, and the church itself. It was the purpose of this study to discover the relationships that may exist between youth retention in the church and other selected variables.

Method. The Ten-Year Youth Study of Youth Retention in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America furnished data for statistical analyses. Out of the 578 questions of the Ten-Year Youth Study, relevant items for this study were sorted out, and some of them were grouped together for scales development. SPSS factor analysis and reliability analysis programs were utilized in formulating the scales. Then, these scales and other selected individual items were put into statistical analysis such as Pearson correlation and a stepwise logistic regression analysis.

Results. Approximately 55% of the members who were baptized at the age of 15 or 16 were active in attending worship regularly after 10 years. The stepwise logistic regression result selected seven primary predictors that seem to influence youth retention the most as measured by worship attendance. The positive influential predictors were, in descending order, Teacher encouraged thinking, Giving tithe regularly, Involvement in the church, and Agreement with distinctive Adventist doctrines. And the negative influential predictors were, in descending order, Teacher emphasized rules and regulations, Anti-traditional Adventist behavior, and Mother's indifference and rejection.

Conclusions. Youth retention in the church is a combined result of psycho-social and cognitive experiences a person had at home, school, and church during childhood through adolescence. Parents' modeling with warm and caring attitudes, teachers' grace oriented attitudes, teachers' encouragement of thinking, congregational leaders' affectionate and supportive attitudes are significantly correlated with the youth retention in the church. Also, youth's agreement with distinctive Seventh-day Adventist doctrines, agreement with church standards, involvement in church activities, and paying of tithes significantly correlated with youth retention in the church as measured by worship attendance.

Subject Area

Church work with youth--Seventh-day Adventists, Adolescent psychology, Teenagers--Religious life.

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