Sociologist Christian Smith (UNC - National Study of Youth and Reigion, Soul Searching, Souls in Transition, etc.) and Youth Minister Mark Oestreicher (Youth Specialties, Youth Ministry 3.0, etc.) agree that developing affinity (or "network closure" in Smith's more technical sociological term) is a major task of both adolescence and youth ministries.
While teaching religion and theology classes at Messiah College and Temple University, I have been deeply aware that many students are struggling with religious issues because varying answers to certain questions about life, behavior, theology, ethics etc. have the potential to alienate them from a community of people (church, family, peer group). I recall one student in particular at Temple whose scientific friends and church community both told her she couldn't accept evolution and remain a Christian. She had to choose whether to belong to the scientific or Christian community according the representatives of these groups that she knew. But there are other cultural issues at work as well. One of the most divisive demands I'm seeing within and between faith communities today places political affinity ahead of ANY other commitment, but perhaps that is not the most insidious affinity demand. Identity politics in our world are completely understandable, even if the divisions created are regrettable. It takes solidarity to get anything done. Teenagers (and all of us I suppose) are being asked to identify as consumers.