Adolescence in the Church: Perspectives from College Students and Adults on Mentorship and Spiritual Formation in the Church

Savannah Spicer


Studies of adolescent development indicate that adult mentoring relationships are beneficial to an adolescent’s social, emotional, and spiritual development (DuBois & Silverthron, 2005; Hurd et al., 2009; Southwick, et al., 2006; Zimmerman et al., 2002). Additionally, these studies display how adult mentors can be useful in guiding adolescents towards a sense of self-awareness. While research emphasizes how needed and beneficial adult-adolescent relationships can be (Crisp & Cruz, 2009; DuBois & Silverthron, 2005; DuBois & Silverthron, 2005; Hurd et al., 2009; Santrock, 2010; Southwick et al., 2006; Zimmerman et al., 2002), there is a gap in literature on the engagement between adults and adolescents in the church.  With the numbers of Millennials leaving the church after entering college on the rise (Waters & Bortree, 2012), this study seeks to understand how mentorship in the church affects a student’s decision to continue their spiritual formation in college. The intent of this mixed methods study was to investigate the perspectives of adults and adolescents who have been involved in mentoring relationships in the evangelical church. This study includes a qualitative inquiry of 9 pastors or youth pastors in the church exploring their experiences and perspectives with mentorship. The quantitative aspect of this research study interpreted the spiritual formation of 200 college-age students in order to determine if there is a correlation between mentorship during adolescence and faith in post-secondary education.  Ultimately, the findings of this research study display the seemingly ever-present need for increased interaction between adults and adolescents in the church.


Mentorship, spirituality, spiritual formation, adolescents

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