By Elsie Froment and Kaylee Arsenault
Funded by a 2020 grant from the Lilly Foundation Pathways for Tomorrow Program, Northwest Baptist Seminary conducted a literature review seeking possible improvements for its Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE) mentorship training. The research turned up a startling study, which may not be a surprise to church leaders. Here is a description of the study by researcher Kaylee Arsenault, who conducted the literature review.
There is a great need in the younger generation in North American for substantial and continued mentorship. A 2020 study by the Springtide Research Institute found that nearly 70 percent of young people between the ages of 13 and 25 report having three or fewer meaningful interactions in a day, with more than one in four claiming to have only one or less adults in their lives to turn to if they need to talk. The same study found that 24 percent of those within this age group without any adult mentors say they never feel their life has meaning and purpose, but adding one adult mentor drops this number from 24 percent to 6 percent. With feelings of loneliness and isolation intensified even further in the younger generation through the COVID-19 pandemic, these statistics must be taken seriously. The role of mentor takes on a new level of importance.
It is well known that youth today are suffering from anxiety at unprecedented levels. Life appears meaningless. Many younger people are searching for thrills, seemingly not caring about the possibility of dying. At the same time, the majority of Canadian youth are classed as “nones,” meaning that they have no knowledge of the message or benefits of religious faith. The neediness expressed in the Springtide research is striking; it underlines how urgent their condition is.
NIMER is bringing this study to the attention of our readers because a relationship with Christ brings peace, security, and guidance. Mentoring relationships may be one way in which youth cross from meaninglessness to purpose and begin to experience the fullness of life in Christ. Perhaps the Springtide research uncovers a fundamental ministry opportunity for churches.
Koneck, E., Packard, J., & Thompson Hagarty, M. (2020). The State of Religion & Young People 2020: Relational Authority. Springtide Research Institute.