The average convert to Islam is 31 years old. Why does Christianity attract mostly teens?

Jim was the assistant manager of a sporting goods store where I worked during my graduate studies at Northwestern University. He was in his early forties, had been raised in a Jewish family, and had served in Vietnam. I expected him to be particularly resistant to the gospel.

Much to my surprise, Jim began to ask me about my personal beliefs after he learned I was studying comparative religion. For several months we discussed religion in general and Christianity in particular. One evening, as we were seated with three other employees in the store break room, there arose a discussion over the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart affairs. One employee had come to the conclusion that all “born-again” Christians were probably secretly involved in immoral activities. When I took issue with this statement, I was interrupted by Jim. “Wait a minute,” he said, amazed. “You make it sound like you are one of those born-again Christians.” When I replied that according to my understanding of the New Testament term I was indeed born again, he protested loudly: “No! No! You can’t be!” Amused, I asked him why not. His response? “Because what you say makes sense to me.”

I believe that Jim was responding to alterations I had begun to make in my approach to nonbelievers—in particular, to those who are older than 25.

In the late 1800s, Edwin Starbuck conducted ground-breaking studies on conversion to Christianity. Ever since then, scholars, attempting either to verify or disprove his findings, have repeatedly demonstrated them to be accurate. Most observers agree that what Starbuck observed is to a large extent still valid. From these studies we learn two significant ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.