A few weeks ago, I blogged about the misperception that millennials are losing their faith. In that post, I mentioned two facts that will springboard us to today’s topic of faith retention:
1. Young people are not leaving the church in droves.
2. Of all young adults that do leave the church, only 11 percent came from homes where a consistent/serious faith was practiced, whereas 89 percent came from lukewarm or no-faith homes.
In other words, what parents do to build faith into their kids matters. A parent’s role in passing along their religious beliefs is the most important contributor to faith consistency in children.
On to the obvious question: how can moms and dads best ensure their children carry their faith into adulthood?
Turns out the single best thing parents can do to pass on their religious beliefs is to live out an authentic, vibrant faith themselves. One researcher even called parents “the most important pastor a child will ever have in their life.”
Makes sense, doesn’t it? If we’re just going through the motions of faith, it won’t stick.
There’s another reason why actively modeling the faith is so vital: the second most important factor in faith retention is for the child himself to develop spiritual habits, like regular prayer and Scripture reading. Similar to a toddler who intently watches her mom and mimics her every movement, children observe their parents’ lives and will pick up the practices they regularly see their parents engage in.
As much as intentional parenting matters, though, we would be wise to remember that salvation and faith are supernatural matters. As such, I urge you to pray for your children, trust the Holy Spirit to speak into their hearts, and rely on the grace of God.
You can read more about faith retention in a study compiled by our very own Glenn Stanton that’s available for reading and download online at Focus Findings. Another recommended resource for parents is the book Sticky Faith,” which is available at our online bookstore. Finally, our website has a robust section dedicated to the topic: Spiritual Growth for Kids.