Are Your Children “Under The Influence?”

July 26, 2012

Faith At Home, Interact, Time

I recently came across the results of a survey conducted by the Search Institute called, “The Most Significant Religious Influences.”  The focus of the survey was to determine which persons most influenced children in their faith.

As someone who teaches a special needs class at our church, I was certain that the results of this survey would show that my title as “teacher” was going to be the top influencer in the faith journey of our children with special needs!  I thought of all the hours that I spend putting together the Life Group lesson, the time searching for the perfect bible story video clips to show our kids, and the minutes spent at the copying machine creating handouts for our Special Friends learners.  I was certain that the results of the survey would would reveal what I already knew:  a Sunday school teacher was THE most influential person in the development of faith in a child…well okay…maybe the second most influential just under the pastor!

I started reading the results:

“The most significant religious influence for Christian children today is…Mom.” 

At first I was taken back, but then I quickly rationalized that no one can compete with moms.  So I read on:

“The second most signfificant religious infleucne for Christian children today is…Dad.” 

Huh?  Seriously?

My heart continued to sink as significant religious influence number three was grandparents, followed by friends and then siblings.  “Teacher at my church” was way down the list.  At that point, I realized the reality that children obviously feel like parents are the primary influence in their development of faith.  Not Sunday school teachers, not childrens pastors, but Mom and Dad!

Christian Smith, in his book, Soul Searching summarized the latest findings:  “Most…parents may not realize it, but a lot of research in the sociology of religion suggests that the most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents.  Parents are the greatest influence.”

So, the question is:  “Are your children under the influence…YOUR influence?”

Research confirms, and the bible makes clear, that the home is the primary place where faith develops.  Research and Scripture both conclude that a parent is the most important and strongest influence in the nurturing of a child’s faith.  Parents are two to three times more influential than any teacher, pastor, any special needs church program.  That is not to say that these other influencers are not important…they are.  However, parents have a far greater influence and ability to equip their child to learn about their faith.

The more that this information and reality sunk in, the more one thing seemed clear:  I need to start assessing how much I’m using MY influence as a parent in nurturing and developing the faith of my boys with special needs.

As I mentally fast-forward to who I want my boys to become, I cannot think of anything more important than passing on a vibrant and transforming faith to them!  I’ve decided to set out on a journey.  A journey to learn how to use the influence that I have as a parent and be more effective at home in helping my boys with special needs become the men that God wants them to be.

If you’re a parent who also believes that nuturing and developing your child’s faith is important, then I invite you to join me on this journey!  Perhaps we can encourage one another as we walk this path?  If so, “subscribe” to this blog or click “like” on our Special Friends Ministry facebook page if you want to be notified when the next post is published.

Michael Woods, M.A. BCaBA CPI

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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