Fuller Youth Institute, Tyler Greenway

Wayland, Michigan

To investigate the perceptions of public worship practices among young people who do not regularly attend worship services, in order to provide insight to Christian worshiping communities as they seek to better understand the life narratives of this population.

Researcher(s): Tyler Greenway 
Academic Discipline: Psychology

Project Summary

We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews with young people who do not regularly attend worship services in order to investigate their past and present perceptions of public worship practices. This research provides insight to Christian worshiping communities as they seek to understand the life narratives of young people in their area. 

What questions have you asked about worship in the past year? List at least two questions that have generated theological reflection and have helped shape your project.

  • What are religiously unaffiliated young people’s past and present perceptions of public worship? 
  • How can interviews with these young people guide and inform ministry practice? 
  • How can this process be best replicated for other churches interested in community-specific research? 

In what ways has or will your project strengthen the worship life of congregations?

We believe empathy with today’s young people is core to healthy ministry. We anticipate this project will enable worshiping communities to better empathize with and understand the perceptions of unaffiliated and disaffiliated young people, specifically their past and present perceptions of Christian worshiping communities. We hope this project will enable and encourage churches in both the local community and across the country to think about those outside their congregation. 

What have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)

The biggest challenge for this project was participant recruitment during the Covid-19 pandemic. We anticipated some difficulty with recruitment (related to stigma associated with non-affiliation or disaffiliation from worshiping communities), but this challenge was further amplified because recruitment and interviews took place remotely. 

What advice would you like to share with other Teacher-Scholars? 

The process of listening to several young people over the course of a year and asking about their lives and perceptions of worshipping communities has been wonderfully beneficial and will shape the course of our future research and ministry. We would highly recommend that other researchers incorporate similar qualitative approaches in their studies of worshipping communities and that ministry leaders listen and empathize with young people (those affiliated and unaffiliated with church worshipping communities) as they seek to minister with them 

What products will emerge from your project?

We anticipate that 1 scholarly journal article, 1-2 blog articles, our interview protocol (linked online to blog articles), and 1-2 presentations will emerge from this project.