Sociological data confirms what we have often felt: (a) adulthood is now a more difficult status to attain; (b) transitioning to adulthood admits to different pathways, complicating ministry with young adults; and (c) the meaning people attribute to being "adult" is more varied than when societal roles were more ascribed. This article offers sociological analysis of these trends, especially as they impact how Christian identity is shaped. It also suggests strategic foci for Christian educators tending the life course of young adults.
Utilizing Erikson's (1963) psychosocial ego identity development theory, 28 qualitative interviews with religiously devout American are analyzed to determine different patterns of adult spiritual identity. Following an integrationist approach, we provide response to the question, "What types of identity development are accommodated, promoted, or prohited by particular models of Christian education and the educational communities that embody them?" Recognizing individual differences in (1) the social and contextual factors that affect identity formation, (b) the way religious doubts are resolved, and (c) what individuals seek from community, we offer important implications for religious educators and Christian institutions of higher education.