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A good children's programme is a draw for many Christian parents

Thursday, February 6, 2020, 23:12 (IST)

Committed Christian parents are attracted to churches with strong children's programmes, new research by Barna has found.

A survey of 508 'highly engaged' American Christian parents found that a majority (58%) chose a church with their children in mind.

These six in 10 parents said that the children's programming was the primary reason they had chosen to attend their current church.

Highly engaged Christian parents were defined by Barna as those who have attended a Christian church service within the past month, other than for a holiday or a special event. They are also those who strongly agree that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and believe that making a personal commitment to Christ is important, as is passing on their faith to their children.

Around three in five of these engaged Christian parents reported attending church with their children every week.

"Attendance at Sunday worship appears quite consistent across age groups of children, hovering in the 80- to 88-percent range across the span of childhood years," Barna said.

"Sunday school attendance trails by only a few percentage points across these years. The dedicated truly are dedicated."

The survey found that the children who are more active in church were also more likely to engage with the Bible beyond Sundays, including praying together with their family at home and attending Christian activities like Bible studies and youth events or camps.

They were also more likely to volunteer or engage in some kind of outreach activity, Barna said.

According to the findings, the frequency with which children attended church was influenced by whether their parents were single or married.

While two thirds of children (64%) from homes headed by a married couple attended church every week, this fell to around half (51%) among children from single parent households.

Barna said this could come down to logistics or child custody issues.

"For some, the weeklong work and parenting demands of a typical single parent means less time and energy even for a family activity that's very important to them, such as attending church," it said.

"For others, it may be a logistical issue having to do with weekend custody."