Spiritual development – parents' best gift to their children

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
 | 
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

teen girls talkingRecent research by Barna Group reveals that a large majority of devoted Christian parents decide where to fellowship and worship based on the availability of quality children's ministries that a church has to offer.

Barna Group partnered with OneHope to produce the "Guiding Children to Discover the Bible, Navigate Technology & Follow Jesus," which is based on the responses of 506 self-identified Christians with children between the ages of 6 and 12. According to that report, diligent Christian parenting pays off.

"Nearly six in 10 highly engaged Christian parents say children's programming is the primary reason they chose their current church (58%), proving that even though children may be small, they carry big weight when it comes to family decisions about where to worship," the Barna Group revealed.

"This suggests that – for churches to attract and retain strong Christian households – children's programming must be a key part of holistic family ministry."

When asked if "children's program is the primary reason for church choice," 22% of highly engaged Christian parents – parents who regularly attend church, are committed to the Bible's teachings, and desire to pass their faith on to their children – strongly agreed, 36% somewhat agreed, 24% somewhat disagreed, and 18% strongly disagreed.

Parents choosing church (Barna chart 1)

Spiritual grounding in midst of a secular society

Most parents confirm in this day and age that it's difficult to maintain regular church attendance with their children, but a strong majority of devoted believers manage to get the job done.

"Regardless of what region you're in, about three in five engaged Christian parents report attending church with their children every week," Barna reported. "This is as true in the West and Northeast – generally speaking, more unchurched – as it is in the South. Attendance at Sunday worship appears quite consistent across age groups of children, hovering in the 80- to 88-percent range across the span of childhood years, [while] Sunday school attendance trails by only a few percentage points across these years."

According to the report, a number of factors contribute to whether families attend church regularly.

"Two-thirds of married people's children (64%) attend church every week, compared to half of single parents' kids (51%)," Barna researchers disclosed. "For some, the weeklong work and parenting demands of a typical single parent means less time and energy even for a family activity that's very important to them, such as attending church. For others, it may be a logistical issue having to do with weekend custody."

Tenets for life

The report also indicates that those parents who get their youngsters to church weekly are seeing benefits in other areas of family life and spirituality.

"[C]hildren who are most active in church tend to engage with the Bible outside of church, to attend church activities other than Sunday worship – such as Bible studies, camps or children's/youth events – and to pray together with their family, as well," the Barna report divulged.

"They are also about twice as likely to engage in outreach activities and volunteerism – demonstrating that the level of dedication in this group to the overall mission of the church is not only internally focused, but expresses itself in outward action."

Children in devoted Christian families are experiencing a distinct advantage when it comes to faith-building activities, such as youth group, Bible study, Christian camp, and outreach. A similar trend is seen between the groups in family activities (e.g., praying together, listening to worship music, reading the Bible aloud, and volunteering).

Children's engagement (Barna chart 2)

As the report points out, the results evidently pay off.

"[T]hree out of five church-engaged parents are very satisfied with their children's spiritual formation thus far (61% vs. 51%)," the study stated. "They are also more likely to rely on their church for the faith development of their kids (72% vs. 63%). Less church-engaged parents, by comparison, are more likely to look to extended family as key to their child's faith development (39% vs. 30%)."

Hettie Brittz, a developer of the Evergreen Parenting Course, maintains in an interview for the report that keeping children grounded in church and biblical principles sets them up for godliness and success.

"Spiritual development is closely tied to moral development phases," Brittz asserts. "How growing children process the ideas of right and wrong, safe and unsafe, good and bad; these are very abstract concepts for a while and only become concrete later in childhood. When we as parents demonstrate both God's justice and his forgiveness in consistent ways … it is the best spiritual gift we can give our children."


Charts compliments of Barna.com

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