Kids + Parents = Faith Involvement?

Kent Shaffer —  June 2, 2010

Recently the Barna Group and the reThink Group teamed up to explore how having a child influences a parent’s connection to a church or faith community. Here are some highlights:

How parents say having kids affects their connection to a faith community:

  • 50% did not change involvement
    >> Most common among Northeast and West USA, atheists/agnostics (90%), non-Christian religions (70%), and among college graduates
  • 20% increased already active involvement
    >> Most common among lower income homes and Hispanics
  • 17% began attending after a long period of not going
    >> Most common among Republicans and political conservatives
  • 5% became active in a faith community for the first time
    >> Most common among Midwest USA, Catholics, and Hispanics
  • 4% became less active
    >> Most common among single parents, never married parents, and Asians

For full analysis on the study, read the Barna Group’s full report.

What I love about this study is it is a great example of why we can’t assume all people are alike or even that all subcultures are alike. Not every parent is affected the same way by having kids. And what is probable for college-educated atheist parents in the Northeast isn’t necessarily probable for a lower-income Hispanic parent in the Midwest.

Statistics like these are incredibly useful in letting us compare our sociological observations with scientific trends. They are a sounding board. However, one of the most important things you can do is learn the unique probability of the community that you are called to reach. Rather than surveys and polls, the best way to do this is listen, ask questions, get out into your community’s different cultures, and listen some more.

If you can understand the microstatistics of your community’s niche, then you can better understand how you can turn the bad statistics into good statistics.

For Discussion:
- Describe the types of cultures that your ministry reaches.
- What do you do to better understand these cultures?

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with OpenChurch.com to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

6 responses to Kids + Parents = Faith Involvement?

  1. A fairly high percentage for those with children – great post, thanks for sharing!

  2. My ministry reaches all cultures that it comes into contact with. When I say cultures I am not just referring to different ethnic cultures. As for connecting with the culture I try to find a commonality so a discussion will flourish.

    Luke 6:38
    Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

    Be blessed.

  3. Very interesting survey. It is somewhat disturbing to me that having kids doesn’t seem to have a bigger impact on parents faith across the board. Children are a miracle; I would think that alone would make someone seek their faith.

    I think your point about the outreach of the ministry being more important than the statistics is great. God is often found in a conversation between 2 people or a helping hand being offered where needed, more than through a strategy.

  4. @JD

    Great story. Thanks for sharing!

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