Scott McConnell from the LifeWay Research team co-authored the recently published book, The Parent Adventure. It reveals how the church can help moms and dads break the cycle of destructive parenting practices by focusing on the authority of God’s Word.
The book includes a national survey of 1,200 adults with children under 18 living at home. This data blurb from the research caught my attention:
The most common definitions of successful parenting include children having good values (25 percent), being happy adults (25 percent), finding success in life (22 percent), being a good person (19 percent), graduating from college (17 percent), and living independently (15 percent). Being godly or having faith in God is mentioned by 9 percent of respondents.
Parents who attend religious services weekly are particularly likely to emphasize faith in God, but only 24 percent of them identify that as a mark of parenting success.
McConnell commented on the research findings:
We are seeing an ever-widening gulf in American believers between the private faith and a faith that is passed on. Instead, we too often see an emphasis on guiding children to a social morality and toward an as-yet undefined ‘happy’ life.
Less than one-half of one percent of adults ages 18 to 23 have a biblical worldview, compared to about one out of every nine older adults.
McConnell’s work reveals that parents have a desire for their children to grow up and lead good lives, but faith in God is not necessarily part of the equation, much less a belief that the Bible is the authority on parenting. Barna demonstrates that a biblical worldview is almost non-existent among the younger generation. Coupled together, the stats do not bode well for the passing of faith to successive generations.
The current state of faith and family is unsettling, but the solution is not complicated. My research on church dropouts reveals how parents kept their children in church and passed on their faith successfully. They not only do church but also talk about their faith. They regularly discuss spiritual matters and personal struggles. These families serve together in the church. And they also regularly pray at home together. The solution is not complex – it just takes time, discipline, and a passion for God’s Word.