Like Father, Like Son

Data from Pew Research reveals that American students and their parents have a lot in common when it comes to religion. (*pre-Covid19)

Most parents and their teenagers share a religious identity.  And when it comes to evangelicals, 80% of teens say they follow their parents lead.

What about church attendance patterns?  Teens attend religious services about as often as their parents.  44% of teens say they go to a religious service at least once a month.  This mirrors their parents who say they attend monthly (43%).

And among those surveyed, about half (43%) say they have the same religious beliefs as their parents.

What does this mean for the church now and down the road?

First of all, we know the adult population has been growing less religious for several decades. We are trending toward secularization.  Will the next generation continue in that trend?  Findings say "yes." Church attendance declines in the final two years of high school.

One big key is this - parents who actively engage their children with religious practices see their children more involved in religious beliefs and practices.

59% of kids say they talk about religion at home.  48% say grace before family meals.  25% say their parents read the Bible with them.

Perhaps because attendance at religious services also tends to be a family activity, it’s an area in which parents and kids are largely in sync.

Among parents who say they attend religious services on a regular basis (at least once or twice a month), 88% have a child who also reports attending that often. An almost identical share (89%) of parents who attend services infrequently (a few times a year, seldom or never) have a child who does the same.

When it comes to determining right from wrong, students turn mostly to parents and other family to help them determine right and wrong.

Students take after their parents religiously.  Attending services with them and enjoying religious traditions as a family.

Students rates of attendance and prayer are closely tied to their parents' religious practices.  Students whose parents regularly attend church services are more likely to attend services as well.

60% of students who say religion is very important in their lives attend church with both parents.  59% say they talk about religion with their family at home at least sometimes. 

Students who are unaffiliated with a church or religious group are far less likely to engage in these practices at home.  Large majorities in this group report that they say they do not say grace before meals (72%) or read religious scripture (93%) with their family.

Parents who regularly attend worship services are particularly likely to say their children’s religious beliefs are similar to their own.

About half of students say they have all the same religious beliefs as their parent

This research confirms what we know to be true.  



Throughout Scripture, we see that parents are called to raise their children to love and follow Jesus.  And if you take a close look, you'll see that parents are challenged to first live out the faith by example and then encourage the next generation to follow their example. Here's an example of this command found in I Timothy 4:16.

Pay close attention to yourself and to the teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Our children are watching us.  Looking at us to be the spiritual example they need.  We must walk the talk and live out a sincere faith.

And think about this.  

If you want to influence kids, then you have to influence their greatest influencer...their parents.

It is crucial that we not only minister to children, but to their parents as well.  Why?  Because like father like son. 

When you reach a child, you change a life.  When you reach parents, you change the whole family.

Always, always, always be looking for opportunities to engage and equip parents.  

Kids follow the lead from their parents.  Our job is to make sure parents have the tools, resources and  encouragement they need to set a good example for their kids to follow.

Have you heard about our upcoming live webinar?  We will be talking about how you can see kids grow up to love and serve Jesus for a lifetime.  Join Jim Wideman, Kim Botto and myself for this interactive time of teaching.   I've been researching about why kids walk away from the faith and how we can change that.  I've been studying this for years and have found a strategy that helps kids grow up to love Jesus.  

You can get more info. and register at this link.