Key Factors of Faith Development : The Relationship Between Family and Church Factors and Faith Development of Adolescents and Young Adults in German-speaking Europe
Method: Observation and anecdotal evidence have suggested for a long time that the faith development of adolescents and young adults is influenced by family and church factors. But no actual study had been done to investigate whether these observations can be confirmed and generalized across German-speaking Europe. This study is based on the data gathered by Valuegenesis Europe and examines if a relationship between family and church variables and the faith development of adolescents and young adults in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland can be established. All 335 items of the original Valuegenesis Europe questionnaire were checked for applicability. Finally, 145 items were selected that resulted in 13 family variables, 14 church variables, and 7 control variables. Further, four new faith development scales were constructed and first employed as a new outcome measure for adolescents and young adults in German-speaking Europe. The sample of this study was 1,359 adolescents and young adults between 14 and 25 years of age. Seven overarching null hypotheses were tested in order to answer the seven research questions of this study. For the statistical procedures, Pearson correlation coefficient, ANOVA, multiple regression analysis, and multiple regression analysis using forward stepwise and backward stepwise procedures were used.
Results: The study confirmed what anecdotal evidence already suggests: There are key factors of faith development in the area of family as well as in the area of church that influence the faith development of adolescents and young adults in German-speaking Europe. Family and church variables had the strongest relationship with the Belonging aspect of Faith Development followed by Doing and Believing. Caring always showed the weakest relationship. There are more and stronger key factors of faith development in the area of church than in the area of family. The strongest key factors in the area of family are Spiritual Life, Family Climate, and Religious Mother. The strongest key factors in the area of church are Church Activities, Youth Ministry, Importance of Church Relationships, Responsibilities and Personal Gifts, Worship Experience, Meaningful Youth Program, Thinking Climate, Spiritual Needs, and Church Warmth.