Recently I came across this research and felt I needed to share this with our church. I have copied and pasted excerpts from the original article and the link to the article is at the end. My comments are in blue.
What do you think makes the biggest impact on a child’s spiritual development? Dinner as a family? Parents who don’t miss special events? Having church friends? Being at a good Christian school? Being at a church with a vibrant kids and student ministry?
While surely those are all good things and things I want for may children, none of them showed up in the recent research study done by LifeWay on how kids really grow spiritually. We must be careful we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about things that don’t make the biggest impact.
This study study analyzed adults who finished their parenting journey with one or more kids now between 18-30. The study looked at faith characteristics of those kids now, all grown up, and looked at the parenting practices and habits of the children as they were growing up. Here are the top five biggest influencers in your child’s spiritual development:
1. The child regularly reads his/her Bible while growing up.
This is not surprising, is it? It’s the same for adults. Quite simply, kids who regularly read the Bible are much more likely to walk with Christ as adults than those who do not. More important than a family meal, more important than the school the child attends, more important than the church or the kids ministry or the youth group, is helping children fall in love with reading their Bibles. If there is one thing, and only one thing, we as parents and ministry leaders should do, it is this: Live Bible reading in front for our kids. Show our kids how to read the text. Read the Bible with them. The research says, “Do whatever it takes.”
This is another reason why I love the Bible Quizzing Ministry at Cornerstone. While many kids may not even be reading their Bibles regularly, our Bible quizzer are memorizing the Bible.
2. The child regularly spends time in prayer growing up.
Similar to reading the Scripture, a child who looks to Jesus in the Word and in prayer is going to be continually changed and set on a trajectory for a lifetime of faith.
Our kids at Cornerstone have prayer times in each of their Sunday School classes, during Bible Quizzing practices, and on Fridays at youth group. Even better, though, when the children are spending time at home praying on their own and with their families.
3. The child regularly served in church while growing up.
The research also revealed that the family attending church is very significant for the child. From a research vantage point, each drop in frequency of a family’s church attendance correlates to a drop in the child’s faith development. Bottom-line: an infrequent, church-attending family is adversely impacting the faith development of their children. So attending church matters. But even more than attending, serving in the church while growing up makes a profound impact on a child/teenager.
At a recent board meeting we listed the kids in our youth group and then we made another list of all the youth involved on Sunday mornings. Have you noticed how many of our youth are involved on Sunday mornings? AV, Sound, Music, Sunday School, Nursery, Bible reading. These are good things for our children’s faith development.
4. The child listens primarily to Christian music.
Okay, I did not expect this to be the fourth biggest influence and there will be some haters on this one. Some folks think Christian music is cheesy or creates a bubble or is commercialized. Still others think it is worldly. Do what you want with this point, but the research says that it was the fourth biggest factor on a kid’s spiritual growth. So if you pay attention to the research you may end up singing hymns as a family, loading up a minivan and going to a concert, and being happy when your kid’s room bumps loudly with Christian rap.
In Winnipeg, we are blessed to have numerous Christian concerts. Have you taken advantage of any of these? One of my sons and I went to the Skillet concert recently (with earplugs, thankfully). Have you gone to any Christian concerts with your family recently?
5. The child participates in church mission trips and projects.
Serving in the church impacts the development of a child/teenager, but so does serving in the community. Mission trips and mission projects ranked high on the list.
As this ranks high in the list of biggest influencers, it would be wise for us, as a church, to consider if a short-term mission trip would be something to organize. Even if Cornerstone does not organize, I know I want my children experiencing this in their high school years.
Here is the link to the original article: https://ericgeiger.com/2017/10/research-reveals-the-5-biggest-influencers-on-your-childs-spiritual-health/