The religious lives of young adults have generally been investigated by examining what young people believe and their self-reported religious practices. Far less is known about young adults’ organizational involvement and its impact on religious identities and ideas about religious commitment. Using data from site visit observations of religious congregations and organizations, and individual and focus group interviews with college-age black and white Christians, we find differences in how black and white students talk about their religious involvement; and with how they are incorporated into the lives of their congregations. White students tended to offer “organizational biographies” chronicling the contours of belonging as well as disengagement, and emphasizing the importance of fulfilling personal needs as a criterion for maintaining involvement. On the other hand, black students used “family” and “home” language and metaphors to describe how their religious involvement, a voluntary choice, was tied to a sense of “calling” and community. We show that this variation is aligned with organizational differences in black and white congregations that situate white youth as separate and black youth as integrated into the larger church community.
Williams, Rhys H.; Irby, Courtney Ann; and Warner, R. Stephen. “Church” in Black and White: The Organizational The Organizational Lives of Young Adults. Religions, 7, 90: 1-19, 2016. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Sociology: Faculty Publications and Other Works, http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/rel7070090
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