People who just come to church on Easter

Church attendance is down, but lots of people–including those who don’t come the rest of the year–still go to church on Easter, as well as Christmas.  The tendency is sometimes to look down on “Christmas/Easter Christians.”  But the fact is, on these two days of the year, they show up.  Why is that?

You pastors, how do you handle this phenomenon?  (Do you take the opportunity to upbraid them for not coming the rest of the year?  I have heard that!  Do you do anything different?)  After the jump, an interesting discussion on the topic from the Barna people. [Read more...]

How important is Church?

Not very, according to a new Barna study, at least for 51% of Americans.

What, if anything, helps Americans grow in their faith? When Barna Group asked, people offered a variety of answers—prayer, family or friends, reading the Bible, having children—but church did not even crack the top-10 list.

[Read more...]

The biggest bestseller in Norway is the Bible

Norway is considered a hyper-secularized country, but its biggest bestselling book today is a new translation of the Bible. [Read more...]

Church vs. children’s sports

There was a time (I’m sounding old) when community activities were never planned on Sunday mornings.  There was never such a thing as a soccer or little league practice scheduled for the time when most families were in church.  That has changed.  Now children’s sporting events are routinely scheduled on Sunday mornings.  In fact, new research suggests that children’s sports contributes significantly to the decline in church attendance.

My question:  Why would Christian parents let their kids be in sports when that keeps them from going to church? [Read more...]

Raising children so they will go to church as adults

This has been out for awhile, but I just came across it in the course of some research.   Basically, if fathers go to church, their children will when they grow up.  If fathers don’t, even if the mothers do, the children won’t.

In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The question was asked to determine whether a person’s religion carried through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.

If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church.

Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility.

Before mothers despair, there is some consolation for faithful moms. Where the mother is less regular than the father but attends occasionally, her presence ensures that only a quarter of her children will never attend at all.

Even when the father is an irregular attender there are some extraordinary effects. An irregular father and a non-practicing mother will yield 25 percent of their children as regular attenders in their future life and a further 23 percent as irregulars. This is twelve times the yield where the roles are reversed.

Where neither parent practices, to nobody’s very great surprise, only 4 percent of children will become regular attenders and 15 percent irregulars. Eighty percent will be lost to the faith.

While mother’s regularity, on its own, has scarcely any long-term effect on children’s regularity (except the marginally negative one it has in some circumstances), it does help prevent children from drifting away entirely. Faithful mothers produce irregular attenders. Non-practicing mothers change the irregulars into non-attenders. But mothers have even their beneficial influence only in complementarity with the practice of the father.

In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to church, regardless of his wife’s devotion, between a half and two-thirds of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or occasionally.

A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent that figure rises to 80 percent!

via Touchstone Archives: The Truth About Men & Church.

Yes, this is a study of Switzerland, which has many cultural differences from the United States.  In Europe, women have been taking the lead in church-going, and this may explain the relatively sudden secularization of that once-Christian continent.  The study is from 1994.  Still, the results are fascinating.  In your experience, do you think the study applies here?

It may be that the Lord has made it easy for fathers to carry out their calling to bring their children up in the instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  All you’ve got to do, dads, is take your kids to church.  Can you do that?


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