Most Christian Parents Choose Church Based on Children's Programs, Barna Finds

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Friday, January 31, 2020
Most Christian Parents Choose Church Based on Children's Programs, Barna Finds

Most Christian Parents Choose Church Based on Children's Programs, Barna Finds


Nearly six in 10 churchgoing Christian parents say their congregation’s children’s programming was the primary reason they chose their current church, according to a new Barna study.

“[Children] carry big weight when it comes to family decisions about where to worship,” a Barna analysis of the study said. “This suggests that, for churches to attract and retain strong Christian households, children’s programming must be a key part of holistic family ministry.”

The study was based on a sample of 508 Christian parents who attend church at least once a month and “strongly agree” with four specific tenets of Christianity. (See below for more information.) Barna labels this segment “highly engaged” Christians. The parents in the survey have at least one child ages 6 to 12. 

Fifty-eight percent of highly engaged Christians say children’s programming is the “primary reason” for their church choice. (Twenty-two percent strongly agree with the statement, and 36 percent somewhat agree.) 

Meanwhile, the study found that 64 percent of highly engaged Christians who are married attend church every week, compared to 51 percent of single parents who do so.


“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,” the analysis said. “For others, it may be a logistical issue having to do with weekend custody.”

Barna further found that children who are most active in church “tend to engage with the Bible outside of church,” attend “church activities other than Sunday worship” and pray together as a family. They also are about “twice as likely to engage in outreach activities and volunteerism.”

Highly engaged Christians, according to Barna, are those who “have attended a Christian church service within the past month (other than for a holiday or a special event)” and “strongly agree” with four tenets of the faith:

  • The “Bible is the inspired Word of God and contains truth about the world.” 
  • “Jesus Christ was crucified and raised from the dead to conquer sin and death.” 
  • “They have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today.”
  • “They desire to pass faith on to their child.”

The study was released Jan. 30 and based on a study conducted from Sept. 17 to Oct. 18 last year. It is part of a larger body of research, “Guiding Children to Discover the Bible, Navigate Technology & Follow Jesus.” 

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Rawpixel

In-text graphic courtesy: ©Barna


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.