Those lazy kids.
It’s a centuries old refrain that’s become popular in recent years as faith leaders look for the causes of church decline.
But new research suggests teenagers may not be as much to blame as many think. It found that “teens are actively engaged in service and volunteer projects, and youth ministry is a primary channel through which they serve,” Barna said in a study released earlier this month.
“The Myth of the Lazy Teen” was conducted in partnership with Youth Specialties and YouthWorks and consisted of polling the parents of teenagers about their children’s volunteer habits. It found most young people are active in churches and church-based programs around the nation.
In terms of frequency, 25 percent of teens volunteer for service at least once a month and 17 percent do so at least once a week, Barna reported. Another 26 percent volunteer once every few months and 32 percent less often than that.
“Teenagers are flocking to the local church when they feel the urge to volunteer,” the research group said.
Their interest mostly is in volunteering in church ministries, followed by feeding the hungry and helping the homeless. Educational efforts and environmental cleanup are the next most popular volunteer activities, Barna said.
The study also found that parental involvement and encouragement is important in teenage volunteerism.
“Teenagers who attend church with their parents are more likely to participate in service with their church,” the report said.
The impact is huge. Barna found that 60 percent of teens who attend church with parents have participated in service projects, compared to 16 percent who do not worship with parents.