The transformative role of religious experience: The case of short-term missions


Journal Article

Sociologists have long sought to understand the relationship between collective experiences and individual commitments. This article examines the short-term mission as an institutionalized religious experience, assessing its prevalence, predictors and impact on the religious trajectories of the youth who participate in them. Religiously devout adolescents are more likely than others to go on a short-term mission as are younger adolescents and those with very religious parents. Applying propensity score matching to a nationally representative longitudinal sample of American adolescents, we find that adolescents who go on a short-term mission between interview waves report increased religious participation and solidified religious beliefs. We use the example of this experience to emphasize the importance of considering religious experiences to develop more nuanced understandings of the way religion shapes the beliefs and behaviors of individuals. © The University of North Carolina Press.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Trinitapoli, J; Vaisey, S

Published Date

  • September 1, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 88 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 121 - 146

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0037-7732

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1353/sof.0.0223

Citation Source

  • Scopus