Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Effect of Religious Short-Term Mission Trips on Youth Civic Engagement

The Effect of Religious Short-Term Mission Trips on Youth Civic Engagement:

Religious short-term mission trips are an increasingly popular form of American religious practice, especially among young people. Both organizers and participants often emphasize their transformative nature. However, scholarly efforts to evaluate systematically the social consequences of religious short-term mission trips are lacking. To address this neglect, our article investigates whether going on a religious short-term mission trip significantly differentiates youth who engage in civic actions from those who do not. Based on quantitative analysis of Wave I of the National Survey of Youth Religion (NSYR), we find that, controlling for other important factors, taking a mission trip significantly increases the likelihood of adolescents participating in various forms of civic activity, particularly religious-based volunteer work. Drawing on prior scholarship on religious short-term mission and similarly focused trips and in-depth interview data from trip participants, we outline several theoretical mechanisms that likely explain the link between taking a mission trip and civic engagement.