Vision Quest: A Study of Youth Ministry in Black Congregations

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Tue, 07/01/2008
End Date: 
Thu, 06/30/2011

The Vision Quest research project of Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) utilized a mixed method research design as means of seeking quantitative and qualitative data on profiles of youth ministry leadership and types and best practices of youth ministry that could assist visioning and making recommendations for leadership and ministry needed for positive development of Black youth. Particular information was also sought on roles and competencies of leaders in church-sponsored youth ministries, the range and nature of youth activities sponsored by congregations and outside agencies, manners of leadership recruitment, the youth being served, preparation and support of leadership, challenges and needs of leaders, approaches to addressing challenges, and views of excellent youth ministry and ministry leadership. To this end, the project implemented a national telephone survey of a total sample of 833 churches across the United States and across the denominations (African American Episcopal (AME), African American Episcopal Zion (AMEZ), Baptists, Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME), Church of God in Christ (COGIC), Lutheran, Black Presbyterians, and Black United Methodists (UMC. An ethnographic study was carried out in a purposive sample of thirty-one (31) churches chosen from the national telephone survey across the denominations; the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West geographic regions; rural, suburban, and urban geographic locations; and small, medium, large, and mega church sizes. Focus groups and paper and pencil surveys were administered with 247 seminarians in five historically Black seminaries, including Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC); Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, OH; Shaw Divinity School, Raleigh, NC; Samuel Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA; and Howard Divinity School at Howard University, Washington, DC. A special Post-Katrina focus group was held with youth, youth ministry leaders, and pastors in New Orleans Louisiana; and three types of Atlanta metro-area “Vision Quest Clusters” called “Circle of Care” Groups, including ones for youth leaders, parents with youth, and leaders with youth met in Atlanta. Findings will be detailed in a forthcoming book.