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Modern parents want their kids to choose what's most fulfilling for them, instead of forcing them down a specific path.
"Giving kids a choice, ironically, means not grounding them in any particular tradition and sending the message that religion isn't very important," she said.
"It's a tall order to expect children to become religious and be interested in theology, history and religious culture without more of a strong push from parents and other authority figures," Cox said.
Youth Coordinator Patsy Simons looks at the work of Fiona Kelsey during a service project at Christ United Methodist Church in South Salt Lake City on Oct. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News But strong pushes toward religious practice have fallen out of favor in many homes, noted Nancy Ammerman, a Boston University professor of sociology of religion, in an email.
These reasons provide insights into young people's religious experiences, said Daniel Cox, PRRI's research director.
Youth groups should "engage the experience of religion instead of sitting around with pizza," he said.
CUMC has tried to live out this advice in a variety of ways, Conrad said.
The 30 to 40 middle and high schoolers in youth group can join a worship band, ring hand bells or sit with friends after church and make blankets for the homeless community.
The young adults perch on couches and bean bag chairs in the center of the room, discussing what's new in their lives and how to mentor the church's high schoolers on issues like dating, faith and feminism.
Alicia Griffing, a freshman at Salt Lake Community College, is one of the group's regulars, which seems natural given she was born and baptized into CUMC.