How well do we pass on our faith to our kids?

Posted by Peter Brierley  ·  5 visitor comments

One of the key responsibilities of Christian parents is helping their children to learn about and, hopefully, respond to the claims of Jesus Christ as the Saviour of their lives. However, how effective are we in achieving this?

Doing this is not easy, and everyone's pathway is different. Do you say collective grace before meals? Do you read the Bible together? Do you tell children Bible stories before they go to bed? Do you all go to church together on Sunday? Can you answer their questions about creation and evolution, faith and science, suffering and war? As they grow older, do you send them on Christian camps in the summer? Encourage them to join the school or university Christian Union? Should children be sent to a Christian school?*

Every parent will have different answers to these questions and every family has to work it out in the way best suited for them. When researchers want to know if you've been successful, how do you then measure "success"? Every few years the British Social Attitudes (BSA) annual survey asks questions looking at probably the most simplistic answer to this question. Are today's present and former churchgoing adults in the same denomination as they were brought up in, have they changed to another group, or now simply say they have "no religion"? A simple question, but it yields interesting answers especially for Church of England families.

In 1995, half of the 3,000+ respondents who were interviewed (54%) said they had grown up in a Church of England family. By the time they were interviewed as adults (which might range from their
being 18 to 88!) 30% said they were still Church of England, 4% had joined other denominations and 20% said they now had no religion.

Fifteen years later, in 2010, only two-fifths (39%) of 3,000+ different interviewees had grown up in a Church of England family, and while half that number (19%) were still Church of England, 2% had
joined other denominations, 1% had joined another religion altogether and 17% said they now had no religion.

The "success" rate has dropped a bit, but still roughly half of those brought up as Anglicans have remained Anglicans. A few have found faith practices elsewhere, but the majority of the rest seem to have lost their religion, and presumably any faith they had, altogether. Is such a loss "normal"? The Roman Catholics had about a third of their children lose their religion in both years, and those in other denominations had a third saying they had no religion in 1995 and half in 2010. So the Church of England doesn't do quite as well as Roman Catholics in retaining people in the faith but achieves about the same as other Christian denominations. 

What this shows is that the issue of passing on the faith is of major importance in retaining the next generation in church. Happily, Christian parenting is now becoming a recognised issue in our
churches with books such as The Parenting Book by Nicky and Sila Lee, FamiliesFirst magazine, HTB parenting courses, etc. all readily available. 

Dr Peter Brierley is a church consultant who may be reached on peter@brierleyres.com

25th April

April 25th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Peter Brierley

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Ian Alderson

Ian Alderson

Posts: 2

the figgers are a bit squ'wiff if you take into account a lot of british famlys if asked what riligen you are would say CfoE, as they have been told what they are, but probly never been to a church since they where christened or going to a wedding. as a athist to christian convert, looking back I used to say i was CofE but realy, only went to church when i got forced to in scout church parade lol.

Thursday, 26th April 2012 at 10:49AM

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Ian Alderson

Ian Alderson

Posts: 2

the figgers are a bit squ'wiff if you take into account a lot of british famlys if asked what riligen you are would say CfoE, as they have been told what they are, but probly never been to a church since they where christened or going to a wedding. as a athist to christian convert, looking back I used to say i was CofE but realy, only went to church when i got forced to in scout church parade lol.

Thursday, 26th April 2012 at 10:50AM

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Christopher Lawton

Christopher Lawton

Posts: 1

Whether you or your kids are C of E is irrelevant. Christian means having a personal faith in Jesus and believeing that Hedied to for us and was resurrected and is living. The problem with passing on faith to our kids is that coming to fiath is a personal matter. As parents, we can only guide and encourage. But my eperience is that pressure is counter-productive. Comunicate your joy in Jesuis, that's the best method: joy and enthusiasm are infectious! Two of our three girls have made commitments to Christianity. I wish it were all three...

Thursday, 26th April 2012 at 1:44PM

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Lyn Myers

Lyn Myers

Posts: 5

I guess, no matter what Church you belong to, the hard part of passing on your faith is the part where you actually live it! Children learn from what they 'see' not from what they 'hear.'

Friday, 27th April 2012 at 12:45PM

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Clare Smith

Clare Smith

Posts: 1

I think it is all down to those essential ingredients of being loving to and truthful with your children,as this will create stability and trust.This is what kids need,and it is what faith is all about in my opinion.

Wednesday, 2nd May 2012 at 12:54PM

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