Keeping Faith: Factors Contributing to Spiritual Transformation, Identity, and Maturity in Adolescents01/01/2013
The current research study investigated factors associated with spiritual development among adolescents. Eighty five participants (12 – 19 years) attending Protestant church youth groups were asked to complete a questionnaire measuring spiritual transformation, identity, and maturity as well as demographics, personality, religious social support, and personal devotional activities. The purpose of this research was to understand how religious social support (family, friends, church, mentorship) and personal devotional activities (prayer, worship, study of sacred texts) were related to a spiritual transformation experience, spiritual identity, and spiritual maturity. It was hypothesized that adolescents who reported having had a positive spiritual transformation and who demonstrated higher levels of spiritual identity and maturity would be more connected to religious support systems and would engage more in personal devotional activities. These hypotheses were supported. In particular, those who reported stronger levels of spiritual identity were more actively engaged in prayer, worship, and study of sacred texts and had more religious support from friends, parents, church, and mentorship. Youth who had higher levels of spiritual identity also reported a desire both to be mentored and to mentor others. Active engagement in a greater religious community was related to having had a spiritual transformation experience. These findings may enable mental health professionals, religious leaders, and parents to better understand how to support adolescents with religious and spiritual interests in their journey of spiritual development.