Salvation Army Young Adult Research


Between the summer of 2007 and the summer 0f 2009 I worked on the Territorial Young Adult Research Project for The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda.   The project looked at patterns of attrition and retention of 16-35 year olds in the SA.


The project was designed to meet the following goals:

  1. to investigate the rates of attrition among Salvationists in the 16-35 age bracket
  2. to compare these rates with those of other denominations
  3. to determine if there are discernible patterns or causes of this attrition.
  4. to recommend action that can be taken to address the issue.

A four part approach was adopted in order to achieve these goals.

  1. A literature review of recent research on trends in young adult church affiliation.
  2. A ministry-unit survey, which attempted to paint a statistical picture of patterns of attrition on the grassroots level.
  3. A set of three young adult surveys, aimed at gauging the opinions of young adults regarding their experiences in the Army (one for those attending an Army corps; one for former Army attenders who now attend another church; one for former Army attenders who do not attend any church
  4. A series of interviews and focus groups with young adults, practitioners, and stakeholders across the Territory.

Over the course of the project I travelled from coast to coast, talking to current and former Salvationists, and trying to understand the issues which are involved as a young adult makes decisions regarding their future involvement in a specific denomination.   While the reports fail to do justice to the rich variety of individual stories I encountered, I’ve posted them here to make them available to anyone who is interested.   Feel free to comment on anything you read here, as I’m interested in keeping the conversation going.


The full report, completed in August of 2009 and published in the fall of 2009.

The recommendations, for those of you who want to skip to that part: SA YOUNG ADULT RESEARCH – RECOMMENDATIONS

The demographic highlights report: SA Young Adult Research – Demographic Highlights

The opinion research highlights report: SA Young Adult Research – Opinion Research Highlights

An interview with me from the November issue of Salvationist can be found here; the editorial from the same issue also discusses the project.

An audio interview with me on from March 2009 can be found here.

11 thoughts on “Salvation Army Young Adult Research

  1. Pingback: Moralistic Therapeutic Deists « James Pedlar

  2. Hi James…

    Thanks for this report. It looks very comprehensive and very interesting. I’ve forwarded this page to several people in our territory as I think there are some other related projects going on that should take your research into account.


  3. Hi! I’m on the staff of the SA Officers Training College here in Norway. This looks like very relevant research for us as there are many similarities between Norway and Canada, both in terms of political culture and demographics. And we have an ageing membership. However – the link to the full report only takes me to a pdf of the cover page. Would it be possible for you to get the report to me by e-mail or would I need to contact Canada and Bermuda HQ?

  4. Hi James, I think your work is excellent. The research you have conducted and your findings, I believe, are a very close reflection of what the Army is undergoing in Western society of late. It would be interesting in addition, to find out what outcomes the same research would produce in the upcoming and growing territories such as those in Africa and Asia. Many thanks and keep up the excellent work sir!

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