Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

by Christian Smith, Melinda Lundquist Denton. Oxford University Press, 2009.
Large soul searching

“Many teenagers are very involved in religion, (yet) few efforts to better understand them take seriously their religious faith and spiritual practice.” The National Study of Youth and Religion set out to remedy that deficit, and Soul Searching is the narrative report of its findings. Parents and congregational leaders will likely find the “Conclusion” and “Concluding Unscientific Postscript” most useful, as this is where the practical implications for ministry are found. For example, research shows that parents’ faith is the best positive indicator of their teens’ faith. One implication, then, is that the deeper the parents’ engagement in faith formation, the more firmly engaged their teens will be, giving them a healthier adolescence. Soul Searching is intended to foster informed conversations and effective ministry with teens by the congregations who care about them.