Influence

 the shape of leadership

How Parents Are Choosing Their Church

Reaching the next generation for Jesus

Training the next generation of Christ followers is a vital mission for any church. But a new report from Barna Group suggests congregations who aren’t investing in quality children’s ministries may have a hard time attracting and retaining young families.

In a survey of engaged Christian parents with children aged 6 to 12, more than half (58%) said they chose their churches based on the kids’ programs. (Barna defines these parents as U.S. churchgoers who profess a personal commitment to Christ; believe in the inspiration of Scripture and the death and resurrection of Jesus; and desire to pass on their faith to their children.)

Reaching the next generation with the good news of Jesus while they’re small will give them a big boost in the right direction.

Encouragingly, 57% of the parents polled are very satisfied with their children’s spiritual development thus far. The share is even higher among those who attend services weekly (61%). And 81% report their kids are engaging with the Bible on their own at least once a week.

Even as worship attendance declines or plateaus in many places across the country, engaged Christian parents recognize they need the local church. Most want church leaders involved with guiding their kids, and 44% would like instruction on how to navigate tough topics at home. This represents a tremendous opportunity for churches to make disciples by partnering with families.

A previous Barna poll revealed that the share of 13- to 18-year-olds identifying as atheist was double that of the general population. In an increasingly secular world, children’s ministries have never been more important.

Ephesians 6:4 emphasizes the importance of bringing up children in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” There are no guarantees they will choose to serve God, of course. Yet reaching the next generation with the good news of Jesus while they’re small will give them a big boost in the right direction.

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