Research and Statistics

//Research and Statistics

What Parents and Marriage Have to Do with Resilient Faith

I don’t have time to dissect this great post and this article today. Ironically, I am putting the final touches on my Fully Convinced seminar for tomorrow. But this article could be a press release for The Apollos Project.

A key paragraph:

Not surprisingly, homes modeling lukewarm faith do not create enduring faith in children. Homes modeling vibrant faith do. So these young adults are leaving something they never had a good grasp of in the first place. This is not a crisis of faith, per se, but of parenting.

I will take some time in the future to see if it is also a crisis of our understanding of conversion as.

In the meantime, read the whole thing and pray for our churches that they might become better equipped to pass the gospel baton to their children. Pray that the influence of The Apollos Project would grow. Truly we are on the right track.

Do You Talk to Your Children About Faith Issues?

Dr. Kara Powell relays some statistics about parents who don’t shepherd their children at home. From Sticky Faith, page 71

According to Search Institutes’s nationwide study of 11,000 teenagers from 561 congregations across six denominations,

  • 12% of youth have regular dialogue with their mom on faith or life issues. – Meaning 7 out of 8 don’t!
  • 5% of youth have regular faith or life conversations with their dad. – Meaning 19 out 20 don’t!
  • 9% of teens engage in regular reading of the Bible and devotions with their family.

When it comes to matters of faith, mum’s usually the word at home.

From Search Institute, Effective Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations (Minneapolis: Search Institute, 1990).

Listening to Young Atheists

iStock_000006547671MediumBored TeenVery interesting article in which the writer reveals interviews with those in Atheist Societies in universities. Among his surprising observations:

1. The had attended church.
2. The mission and message were vague.
3. Their churches gave superficial answers to life’s difficult questions.
4. They expressed their respect for ministers who took the Bible seriously.
5. Ages 14-17 were decisive.
6. The decision to embrace atheism was often an emotional one.
7. The Internet focused heavily into their conversion to atheism.

He ends with this observation:

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this whole study was the lasting impression many of these discussions made upon us. That these students were, above all else, idealists who longed for authenticity, and having failed to find it in their churches, they settled for a non-belief that, while less grand in its promises, felt more genuine and attainable. I again quote Michael: “Christianity is something that if you really believed it, it would change your life and you would want to change [the lives] of others. I haven’t seen too much of that.”

Read the whole thing.

As parents, it is essential that we engage with the hearts of our children, that we shepherd them through questions, that we live with authenticity and passion, and that we walk them through church disagreements. Besides the influence of the parents, one obvious theme is also the influence of the church. Choose your church very carefully.

As Iron Sharpens Iron – A Critique of “Factcheckers”

I love the Gospel Coalition. And as I have blogged before, I hate it when statistics about family discipleship are inflamed to create a crisis and sell products.

However, below you will find my critique of an article that proposes that there is no need for concern. In the name of being a “factchecker,” the author rightly wants to calm parents. But in the name of calming them, he swings too far the other way, in effect saying there is no need for concern.

Below is my reply.

I am a long time reader, and strong supporter of The Gospel Coalition and what it stands for. However, this article, in its desire to be contrarian, takes a simplistic and wrong-headed view.

It is true that some wrongly inflame fear by quoting sloppy research.

But it is also true that a significant number of young people who grow up in church-going, Bible-believing homes turn their back on their faith or continue lukewarmly.

Is it 88%? No. Is it 70%? No. Mark Twain’s observation about three types of lies comes to mind in those instances. In any particular study, you must ask:
1. Who is in? Who is a Christian?
2. What is walking away?
3. And does the study only look at Evangelical Christians? Or all variant Christian religions (like several of those links)?

Depending on your answers to these questions, you can get wildly differing results. And that is exactly what this article seeks to attack.

However, serious studies have attempted to quantify the amount of young people who walk away. Most recently, Dr. Kara Powell reported in her book Sticky Faith, that about 40-50% of young people fail to stick with their faith in college.

This number seems in line with my own experience and other pastors I talk with. As a former pastor in New England, I know of story after story of young men and women who have been raised in the faith who walk away.

But what if it is as low as 25%? Am I ok with 1 out of my 4 children spending an eternity in hell? Absolutely not!

I too hate hucksters who create a crisis without really examining the evidence. But those who would speak peace, peace need to be careful as well.

Bottom line, should caring parents live in fear? Absolutely not. But should they think deeply about this issue? Absolutely.

Full disclosure, because I care so deeply about this issue, I founded and lead The Apollos Project, a ministry to equip parents to disciple their children.DMP


Bottom line for my readers. Do we have to be fearful? Absolutely not. Should we be alert and think deeply about this issue. Absolutely. Read the whole thing.

To read more about preventing your children from being prodigals, check out The Disciple-Making Parent.

What Do Christian Teens Actually Believe About Their Faith

VERY interesting interview with the author of The Jesus Survey, Mike Nappa. 

The Jesus Survey was administered during summer 2010 at Reach Workcamp mission sites in Colorado, Indiana, Maine, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. (You can download a reproducible copy of the actual survey used at More than 800 teens, ages 12 to 18, participated in the survey. All teens self-identified as “Christian” and were active in a church youth group at the time of the survey. In all, the survey sample represented 16 Christian denominations from 24 United States, and delivered a 99 percent confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

What he found was how many teens had doubts about the trustworthiness of the Bible and the exclusivity of Jesus.

While 86 percent of those surveyed reported that they viewed the Bible as at least somewhat trustworthy, 70 percent expressed persistent, measurable doubts that what the Bible says about Jesus is true. And these are “cream of the crop” youth group kids.

Christ’s exclusivity seems to be a big stumbling block for many teens. Fully 1 out of 3 (33 percent) of the Christian teenagers surveyed believes that Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha and other great religious leaders all lead to heaven.

The take away?

The absolute best thing you can do for any Christian teenager is to help that teen grow confident in the trustworthiness of Scripture. Teens who believe the Bible is reliable are more likely to embrace authentic Christian beliefs and — according to the data — are significantly more likely to experience an authentic, noticeable relationship with God.

Read the whole book review. It would be interesting to ask questions from this survey to our kids. But it highlights the importance of the apologetics arm of The Apollos Project. Truly, we are on the right track.

Latest Statistics – It is a Hard Time to Be an Atheist

This latest graphic (HT Veith) shows some interesting data:

This study seems to show what other studies by Kara Powell  have determined – about a 50% retention rate for Protestants. The Apollos Project exists to change that reality.

The other interesting stat is that athiests are losing their children at a higher rate! It is a hard time to be an athiest.

I take any of these statistics with a grain of salt. Who is surveyed? What are their definitions? Without a careful controlled look at all those factors, it is hard to put a lot of stock in the studies.

Nevertheless it is interesting. And I would not want to be an atheist!

Scientific Research Backs Up the Bible: Two Dads Are Not Better

Our children are being assaulted by the media on this issue. We are being told God’s way is not the best way;  that the Bible is out of date. Or that our understanding of the Bible on this issue is like the Southerner’s support of slavery. Once we are all “enlightened” we will progress!

But now comes a new study that shows that two dads are not better than one. Show this article to your children showing that God’s way is the best way. Jesus does come to give abundant life (John 10:10).  What is amazing is that out of 15,000 individuals surveyed only 2 has been raised long-term by a gay couple. The numbers alone prove that this is not as popular that the media makes it.

Read about these things now because in the age of the “New Tolerance” dissent like this may not be tolerated!

P.S. I am pretty proud of the writer of this news article for World On Campus. Read the whole thing.

The Negative Effects of Cohabitation – Continued

Once again, people are discovering that there are negative effects of cohabitating before you marry.

Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million.

The common belief?

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

The truth?

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.

God’s way is the best way. Jesus came to give abundant life. If you are not a Christian, this should encourage you think that our Creator knows what is best for us. If you are a Christian, trust that God’s way is best.

No, 9 Out of 10 Children Do Not Drop Out

At The Apollos Project, our desire is to help parents disciple their children so that they do not abandon the faith. In calling attention to this problem, we want to determine the real percentage of children who walk away. We never ever want to overstate the problem so as to gain an audience.

Thus, we are glad when certain overwrought statistics are debunked. In this article, Dr. Timothy Jones debunks the statistic that 9 out of 10 children walk away from their faith.

Marriage Matters – Cohabitation has an impact on children

Yet another article on the benefits of marriage. The blessing of marriage is attacked today. Good to remind our older kids the blessing of marriage. And are we modeling love for our spouse?