What do today’s teens aspire to become after graduation, and how does
the input from pastors and church leaders influence these aspirations? A
study released from the Barna Group reveals that, while teens may
look to the church for career advice, there is a disconnect between
where teens’ future professional interests lie and the encouragement and
instruction they receive in their church or
Only 38 percent of youth pastors and 36 percent
of senior pastors say they frequently
discuss college plans with their students, and this counsel is more
likely to happen when “there is a clear strategy for student ministry in
the church, and in those churches that work effectively with teen
leaders,” the study noted.
While helping students deal with future life decisions may not seem
like an urgent priority in the face of the pressing social, emotional
and spiritual pressures that teens face, research suggests that the
church is not preparing students for the moral and intellectual
challenges that come with higher education.
This need comes into
focus as the Barna study revealed that “more than half of the students
express interest in some type of scientific or applied science career”
and another 20 percent planned to enter creative vocations, such as art
and music. In stark contrast to these numbers, only 1 percent of youth
workers say they addressed issues related to
science in the last year, and a similarly small percentage had taught
about creativity or the arts.
“Many young people do not seem to understand how a rich, historic
understanding of the Christian faith and the gospel ought to inform
their career aspirations,” Barna Group President David Kinnaman noted. “And faith leaders are
not as intentional as they could be with instruction and coaching on
these types of decisions.
Understanding how teenagers hope to spend
their professional lives can help faith communities and institutions
better support these students as they discern God’s calling in their