Religious participation during the quarter-life crisis : examining the relationship between congregations and emerging adults.



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The transitional years experienced by emerging adults (ages 18-24) are characterized by an evident decrease of religiosity. Emerging adults consistently report lower levels of prayer, strong affiliation, religious service attendance and religious identity compared to their older counterparts (Uecker, Regnerus, & Vaaler, 2007; Smith & Snell, 2009). While the significance of this pattern has been recognized, very little empirical research has addressed the role of religious congregations in the lives of emerging adults. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the relationship between congregations and emerging adults. Using a variety of quantitative techniques, I investigate: 1) characteristics related to discontentment with congregations during emerging adulthood, 2) characteristics associated with a congregation’s ability to attract emerging adults, and 3) emerging adults’ social embeddedness within congregations. Applying congregational research addresses an important gap in the study of emerging adult religiosity. Findings of each study are discussed, as are implications and suggestions for future research.