A recent Barna Group study regarding the life aspirations of teens, has much to say about the role that the Church is playing in them. The study indicates that the vast majority of young people have firm ideas about their professional futures. Of course, teenagers’ career goals often change as they mature, develop new interests, or discover other avenues to pursue. Still, the study shows that most young people rarely lack ideas of what they would like to do, even at a relatively early age. Today’s teens reflect a mixture of professional aspirations, but they are dominated by two broad interests: science (dominated by medicine) and creative vocations led by fine and performing arts.
Churchgoing teenagers mirror the broad interests of their non-churched peers; half are interested in a science-related profession and roughly one-fifth want a career in a creative field. Still, there are some differences when it gets down to specific career objectives. Students with an active faith (defined as reading the Bible, attending church and praying in a typical week) are more likely than average to be interested in arts and music, ministry, journalism and law. Another interesting differentiation is between public-schooled and privately educated teens, many of whom attend Christian or Catholic schools. Private school students are more interested than average in arts and music, ministry, government and political science, and graphic arts. Public school teens are relatively more interested in accounting and financial careers, social work, law and business.
The study also seemed to indicate conclusions regarding the impact of the type of churches teens attend upon their career interests, differences between the way faith influences young men and young women in their career choices, and the role of Christian leaders in this area of the lives of teens. A more in depth summary of the study’s conclusions can be read at Barna.org.