The Sociological Quarterly published a notable research report on student achievement and church attendance.The bottom line of the report: students who attend church weekly have higher GPAs. Additionally, they are less likely to drop out of school and connect better with other students in school. The entire journal article can be read here.
Students who attend religious services weekly average a GPA .144 higher than those who never attend services…The study does not suggest God is smiling on the students, per se. Rather, it identifies several reasons the students do better:
- They have regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models.
- Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends’ parents.
- They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values.
- They’re more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.
What I find most fascinating about this secular research is the importance of attending church. In order to raise student achievement, the student must be attending a church regularly. An emphasis on religion was not enough to boost student achievement – they must be involved in a local church.
This empirical tidbit from the Sociological Quarterly presents a catch-22. As revealed in the research in my book, Essential Church, 70% of those that drop out of the church will do so between the ages of 18 and 22. Now even secular research is demonstrating the need for churches to connect better with the younger generation. And it’s distressing that the church is losing these students at the same time that it could be providing them the most guidance.