Glen Stanton at Gospel Coalition has done us all a favor with some fact checking of oft repeated truths that end up being taken as Gospel when, in truth, they are distortions of the truth at best and downright lies at worst.
There are important, effective, and relatively simple things parents and Christian workers can do to substantially increase the likelihood our young people will retain a thriving faith into and through their adult years. This is revealed in very strong, sophisticated research from some of the leading sociologists of youth and religion in the world.
Influencers of Faith
In the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), noted Notre Dame professor Christian Smith and his team found:
First, a commitment to sexual chastity is critical for interesting reasons. Sexuality being such a powerful part of developing in one's teen and young adult years, having strong convictions and practices here indicate the presence of other deeply held and mature convictions regarding behavior. These usually cluster with faith convictions. It strengthens what these researchers call "cognitive resistance to modern secular culture."
Curiously, also having been teased for their faith is shown to be a faith strengthener, for this actually increases resolve and conviction. It requires they wrestle with the question of whether faith is really worth it.
Strong Faith Begets Strong Faith
Smith summarizes his team's findings in plain and direct language:
"religious outcomes in emerging adulthood are not random happenstance about which all bets are off after age 18. Instead, they often flow quite predictably from formative religious influences that shape a person's life in earlier years. . . . [The] religious commitments, practices, and investments made during childhood and the teenage years by parents and others in families and religious communities, matter---they make a difference." (emphasis added)
And these NSYR conclusions are corroborated by findings from a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life analysis of religious convictions and practices of America's youth. Don't listen to the naysayers and pessimists. Their claims are as baseless as they say your child's faith-sustaining prospects are.