I read an article in the Gospel Coalition that affirms much of what we have been learning the last few years about the habits of family and church that generally produce long term faith commitment in the children of that home and church. The following are some of highlights of the article by Trevin Wax (almost entirely in his words). He is quoting from a study that produced a book titled, Nothing Less.
Research has indicated that children who remained faithful as young adults (identifying as a Christian, sharing their faith, remaining in church, reading the Bible, and so on) grew up in homes where certain practices were present.
The biggest factor was Bible reading. Children who regularly read the Bible while they were growing up were more likely to have a vibrant spiritual life once they became adults.
The practice of prayer did not specify whether it was private or corporate, before meals or before bedtime, or in the morning. But prayer was present.
Note that the church-related factor is about service, not just attendance. It wasn’t just that parents took their kids to church (where “professional clergy” could feed them spiritually), but that the children were included and integrated into the church through the avenue of service. The habit of serving others in the church and community likely formed these young adults in a way that kept them from identifying merely as a churchgoing “consumer,” but instead as a contributor to the building up of God’s people. Down the list a little, church mission trips show up, another indicator of the power of active service.
SINGING CHRISTIAN SONGS
Augustine’s ancient observation that we sing the truth into our hearts. When we sing together as congregations and when we praise God on our own or sing songs that fortify our faith, we reinforce the beauty of our faith.
THE POWER OF IMITATION AND ENVIRONMENT
Also notable is the impact of the parents’ example of reading Scripture, taking part in service projects, sharing their faith, and asking forgiveness after sinning. In other words, the more the repentant, joyful Christian life was modeled, the more likely children were to remain in the faith.
It is more likely for kids to grow up and stay in church, if worship was a singular priority-not an option in the family, but a way of life.
We launch “Teach Us To Pray” beginning in January. This will be an important year for us.