The Impact on Kids of Dad’s Faith and Church Attendance

Dream Lake landscape  Rocky Mountain National Park
Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

According to LifeWay Research Group, Father’s Day is the holiday with the single lowest average church attendance – statistically lower than Labor Day, Memorial Day and even the Fourth of July.

This is interesting, especially when you consider that Mother’s Day tends to be the day with the third highest church service attendance, after Easter and Christmas.

So, Mother’s Day is one of the most highly attended Sundays of the year, and Father’s Day is one of the lowest. What does this tell us?

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, gives this assessment:

“Clearly, mothers want to be present for the affirmation that is typically offered in most churches, but families also are present knowing their attendance will honor their mother.

The attendance difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is telling,” said McConnell. “Either churches are less effective in affirming fathers, or families believe Christian fathers don’t value their participation in worship services.”

Surely there are other factors involved, including travel and the time of year. On Mother’s Day school is still in session, on Father’s Day it isn’t – so families travel to visit relatives, or go on vacation.

But all these factors and statistics aside, here’s what’s really striking: when you see the research on the impact of a dad’s faith and practice on their families.

According to data collected by Promise Keepers and Baptist Press, if a father does not go to church, even if his wife does, only 1 child in 50 will become a regular worshiper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of what the mother does, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will attend church as adults. If a father attends church irregularly, between half and two-thirds of their kids will attend church with some regularity as adults.

If a mother does not go to church, but a father does, a minimum of two-thirds of their children will end up attending church. In contrast, if a father does not go to church, but the mother does, on average two-thirds of their children will not attend church. 

Another study, focused on Sunday School, found similar results on the impact of fathers:

  • When both parents attend Bible study in addition to the Sunday service, 72% of their children attend Sunday school when grown.
  • When only the father attends Sunday school, 55% of the children attend when grown.
  • When only the mother attends Sunday school, 15% of the children attend when grown.
  • When neither parent attends Sunday school, only 6% of the children attend when grown.

Another survey found that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will follow. If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17% probability everyone else in the household will follow. However, when the father is first, there is a 93% probability everyone else in the household will follow. 

Here’s the point of all these statistics: Dad’s impact on the kids’ faith and practice is HUGE.

Dads, let me encourage you with these words which Moses spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the dads of the new generation in Deuteronomy:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)




11 thoughts on “The Impact on Kids of Dad’s Faith and Church Attendance

  1. We share this info a lot. Could you supply the references to the research for us to help us convince the skeptical. thanks!

    1. Hi Kim, I wrote this article a few years ago – and at the time I did research it based on data provided by Promise Keepers and Baptist Press. However, I regret that I did not mark down those references. I’m sure they could be dug up via search on the internet, if you are interested in pursuing that. Maybe I will do that too, because you are not the first to ask for the references. If you do end up finding that data, please send me the links so I can include the references here. Thanks!

      1. Hi Craig, yes, that is one of the articles I used as a reference! Thanks for helping me track it down.
        The other sources were from Promise Keepers, Focus on the Family, LifeWay Christian Research and a book called “Becoming Spiritual Soulmates With Your Child.” (ISBN 978-0-8054-6269-2)

  2. I just read your article and the impact fathers have on their childrens church attendance. I had read that info before and googled it wanting to go back over numbers. I was wondering though, do you have any info on children whose fathers attend but kids quit? Is there any research on why? Thanks for help on this!

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