Adolescent nonmembers of the church were targeted by at least one program in one hundred and seventy-six churches. Low-income homes were most of the targets, as suggested during the study. Many have sought to account for the distinctive features of black religious life by focusing major attention on the distant past. They have been preoccupied with African roots rather than with the American experience out of which the black churches emerged (1983, 157).
A variety of sources was used by the Black Church Family Project for the identification of the targets, as black churches were not having any comprehensive list of their churches. Official denominational lists, the National Urban League, as well as, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples local chapters were included in these sources. In addition, local ministerial alliances list, and data from the universities were also included in the sources. The executive offices of the mayors and county executives were also inquired for any valid information during the study.
Funeral directors, telephone directories, and black churches, as well as, the denominations were also included and regarded in the sources during the assessment of sources as maximum as possible. The Lincoln and Mamiya study that was done in the year 1990 was focused during the study, and its seven historically black denominations were focused as a goal during the study. Eight historically white denominations and several other black denominations were also used for the maximum collection of information regarding the subject.
Several noteworthy limitations have been confronted during the study. First, no previously developed or verified resources were benefited by the designing of the project-sampling frame due to the non-availability of the national roster of black congregations. The identification of the sampling universe was the first major problem of the study. The actual number of the black churches across the country was unknown, although, 65,000 to 75,000 was the estimated number of black churches in the United States, as agreed by the religious scholars of the country.
Identification and location of some churches were not possible due to their faith traditions and churches with no permanent addresses and telephone numbers. Therefore, the sample excluded and underrepresented these entities. Thirty-nine percent of the churches provided the greatest interest regarding the teen-support programs among the 176 churches, in which, youth programs were organized. Christian fellowships, seminars group, workshops discussions, rap sessions, counseling, and ministry were consisted in these programs.
Sports activities were the second most prominent offering in these churches. Athletic camps, teams, and martial arts classes were provided by thirty-one percent of the churches. Three percent of the churches provided youth AIDS support programs, while two percent of the churches offered youth health-related services, which were among the least common programs. Persons with AIDS were given with financial support, counseling, classes, and seminars by the former one. Health clinics, screening of health problems, and seminars were included in the latter one.
However, it should be noted that fifteen percent of the churches offered substance abuse programs. Counseling for drug and alcohol, seminars for drug abuse preventive measures, and various workshops were included in these substance abuse programs of the churches. Additionally, sixteen percent of the churches offered college student financial support services, which included emergency financial assistance, and scholarships. Parenting and sexuality issues were handled by fifteen percent of the churches.
These churches offered counseling, classes, workshops, pregnancy preventive measures, seminars, and support for teen parents. Issues regarding the youth at risk were dealt by fourteen percent of the churches. Counseling, delinquency prevention, and delinquent youth residence issues were included in these offering. Role modeling was reported by eight percent of the churches, which included mentors, and foster grandparents. Employment and job readiness was reported by seven percent of the churches, which included summer employment opportunities, job training, and career/job fairs.
Other youth support programs were listed by fourteen percent of the churches. The importance of human resources and leadership was suggested by another finding. The more youth programs were found, when the clergy was paid more. Youth programs were offered by only sixteen percent of the churches with no paid clergy. However, one paid clergy was found in only twenty-nine percent of the churches, and two or more paid clergy were found in forty-nine percent of the churches during the study. The youth programs were also depended on the number of paid staff in the churches.
In this regard, youth programs were offered by only eighteen percent of the churches, which were not having any paid staff. The youth programs were existed in a number of characteristics of the churches. Methodist, middle-class, older, and larger membership churches were found to be more interested in organizing youth programs in their communities. In addition, owned or mortgaged, and churches with more staff and paid clergy were also appeared to be having greatest interest in youth programs.
Youth programs are not offered by most of the black churches, even with the availability of such characteristics and resources. For instance, some types of family-oriented community outreach programs are offered by two-thirds of black churches in Northern regions, the specific youth programs are addressed by only a quarter of these churches. In addition, some variations were also noted among the churches during the study. Considerable potential for expansion is suggested, as youth programs have been engaged and organized by only a quarter of black churches.