The Barna group released a report of their recent study that shows a connection between childhood and adult religious participation. They concluded that "those who attended Sunday school or other religious programs as children or as teens were much more likely . . . to have an active faith as adults."
David Kinnaman, the president of Barna Group, cautions that "the research does not prove that spiritual activity as a young person causes spiritual engagement as an adult." In fact, as a whole, students disengage from faith as they get older, but "the odds of sticking with faith over a lifetime are enhanced in a positive direction by spiritual activity under the age of 18."
Does this mean that bringing your kids to church is the main element in them knowing Christ and following Him their entire lives? I do not think that's true at all. What I, as a pastor, tell parents is that while we want to make the most of the few hours we have with their children each week, nothing can take the place of how THEY are modeling a life of discipleship in their family.
But I think this research does show the importance of a being a part of a local church body. And being a part of His body is more than being in attendance. It involves regular worship, sacrificial service and giving, personal growth, and being in community and fellowship with each other. Not just a couple of these areas, but ALL of them, and more. The discipleship that Jesus calls His followers to requires our entire lives to be turned over to Him.
Yes, that seems like a lot, but the fruit born in our children's lives is well worth it, right?