Research from other organisations

Commitment to Family, Faith, Career & Community: Mothers Juggle It All

Barna Blog - Tue, 05/05/2020 - 5:00pm

Moms do a lot—and that’s a very simplified way of saying “nearly everything.” Being a mom means juggling work, home life, church responsibilities and friends; it means finding the balance in a world where so many people (especially your children) vie for attention. As Mother’s Day 2020 approaches and the COVID-19 crisis continues, many moms are among the parents who are renegotiating the boundaries and responsibilities of their various commitments while they social distance, work from home and oversee virtual learning for their kids. As a mom in this moment, finding that elusive time for oneself—whether that means a day at the spa, a movie night with a spouse or a four-mile run outdoors—is even more challenging.

Though celebrations might look different this year, Barna’s research is clear about moms’ central roles in households and communities. We’ll highlight some of those insights below.

A few of the articles listed below come from our Households of Faith report, our second study with Lutheran Hour Ministries that offers an in-depth look into the home lives of practicing Christians. Currently, Barna is offering a limited time offer for a free digital download of this study. If you don’t yet have a copy of the report, visit our store and use promo code HOUSEHOLDS at checkout to receive Households of Faith for free.

1. The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians’ Households
Recent Barna data show that mothers—more often than fathers, or any other category of frequent participants in households—are seen as the confidants, providers of support and drivers of faith formation. We observe this dynamic in the responses of adults, who esteem and rely on their moms as sources of strength, companionship and wisdom. In fact, some of the clearest examples of the broad impact of mothers surface in the responses of Gen Z, who offer a portrait of mom who are present, passionate and faithful.

Practicing Christians in their teen years consistently identify mothers as the ones who provide spiritual guidance and instruction and instill the values and disciplines of their faith in the household. Moms are their foremost partners in prayer (63%) and conversations about God (70%), the Bible (71%) or other faith questions (72%). This is consistent with Barna data through the years that show mothers to be the managers of faith formation (among other household routines and structures). Mothers are also the ones encouraging church attendance (79%) or teaching kids about the Bible (66%), God’s forgiveness (66%) and religious traditions (72%)

2. Balancing Career & Kids
Society has long debated whether women can “have it all”—or what that means in the first place. Christians at Work, a study conducted in partnership with Abilene Christian University, suggests that mothers are making more compromises than fathers do in pursuit of a family and / or a satisfying career. While this group is relatively gratified in their family relationships, Barna’s study of employed Christians shows that working moms (compared with fathers, single men and single women) are well behind on all metrics of satisfaction—relational, spiritual, emotional, you name it. Their attitudes toward vocation also differ. For instance, even though both mothers and fathers share an equal desire to use their gifts and talents for the good of others (64% and 62%), mothers feel significantly less called to or made for their current work than fathers (38% compared to 55%).

Based on this study alone, Barna can’t weigh in on how vocation is experienced among stay-at-home-parents, as the sample was made up of only employed Christians and the aim was to specifically explore vocational attitudes within one’s paid occupation. But as U.S. women increasingly assume the role of sole or at least co-breadwinner, these findings have widespread implications in both the home and workplace. Tellingly, the sweet spot for Christian women’s vocational fulfillment—and, inversely, the low point for male respondents—is actually when they have never even been married. Christians at Work delves more into how single women find a drive and gratification exceeding even that of working fathers.

3. Behind the Steep Decline in Church Attendance in Women
It’s no secret that the rate of the religiously unaffiliated has risen significantly in the last 30 years, and church attendance has declined as well. However, this trend is not consistent across gender or age groups. To test that, political scientist and Barna guest columnist Ryan Burge calculated the average church attendance of both men and women 18–35-years-old as well as those over the age of 35, finding that the average level of church attendance is down for all groups, but the rate of decline is much steeper for women, particularly those in the older age group.

Why is this happening? It’s nearly impossible to point to one causal mechanism, but Burge offers a few explanations as to what may be going on and how churches can support their female congregants during this shift.

4. Meet the Millennial Parents
Data show that while a majority of young adults has delayed having children, there is a small percentage who have chosen to begin a family. Who exactly are the 35 percent of young adults who, unlike the majority of their peers, have children? Barna wanted to know more about this segment—who represent a growing minority of their generation, a counter to many stereotypes about young adults’ delayed adolescence and a fresh area of research.

This Q&A excerpt from The Connected Generation report features Dorit Reichstein Hejslet, Communications for Open Doors Denmark and mother to three children, a Millennial parent sharing her take on parenting as a young adult and her hopes for the future.

5. What Americans Think About Women in Power
The makeup of the American workplace is transforming. The amount of women in the labor force has grown from 27 percent in 1948 to 47 percent in 2015. The majority of Americans (77%) is comfortable with the future possibility of more women than men in the workforce, including both men (75%) and women (78%). But the younger generations are more open than their older peers: Millennials, many of whom have come of age in the wake of third-wave feminism, are the most comfortable (84%) compared to 57 percent of Elders. Though a majority of evangelicals are comfortable (52%), they remain the most hesitant, perhaps due to a more traditional interpretation of women’s roles as primary caregivers in the home. More working women means couples with children are approaching child-rearing in a variety of ways. This includes, of course, the more recent phenomenon of the “stay-at-home dad,” a scenario with which most American adults say they are comfortable (82%).

Most Americans share the concern that significant obstacles still make it harder for women to get ahead than men (53%). Three in 10 (30%) believe those obstacles are largely gone. Women are more likely to believe those obstacles exist than men (59% vs. 46%). Interestingly, Boomers are just as likely as Millennials to believe obstacles still exist (58% and 57%), suggesting that little has changed between the generations. Evangelicals are the most skeptical of the existence of barriers for women in the workplace. Less than one-third (32%)—fewer than any other segment Barna studied—believes significant obstacles still exist.

 

Feature image by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash.

The post Commitment to Family, Faith, Career & Community: Mothers Juggle It All appeared first on Barna Group.

Commitment to Family, Faith, Career & Community: Mothers Juggle It All

Barna - Tue, 05/05/2020 - 5:00pm

Moms do a lot—and that’s a very simplified way of saying “nearly everything.” Being a mom means juggling work, home life, church responsibilities and friends; it means finding the balance in a world where so many people (especially your children) vie for attention. As Mother’s Day 2020 approaches and the COVID-19 crisis continues, many moms are among the parents who are renegotiating the boundaries and responsibilities of their various commitments while they social distance, work from home and oversee virtual learning for their kids. As a mom in this moment, finding that elusive time for oneself—whether that means a day at the spa, a movie night with a spouse or a four-mile run outdoors—is even more challenging.

Though celebrations might look different this year, Barna’s research is clear about moms’ central roles in households and communities. We’ll highlight some of those insights below.

A few of the articles listed below come from our Households of Faith report, our second study with Lutheran Hour Ministries that offers an in-depth look into the home lives of practicing Christians. Currently, Barna is offering a limited time offer for a free digital download of this study. If you don’t yet have a copy of the report, visit our store and use promo code HOUSEHOLDS at checkout to receive Households of Faith for free.

1. The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christians’ Households
Recent Barna data show that mothers—more often than fathers, or any other category of frequent participants in households—are seen as the confidants, providers of support and drivers of faith formation. We observe this dynamic in the responses of adults, who esteem and rely on their moms as sources of strength, companionship and wisdom. In fact, some of the clearest examples of the broad impact of mothers surface in the responses of Gen Z, who offer a portrait of mom who are present, passionate and faithful.

Practicing Christians in their teen years consistently identify mothers as the ones who provide spiritual guidance and instruction and instill the values and disciplines of their faith in the household. Moms are their foremost partners in prayer (63%) and conversations about God (70%), the Bible (71%) or other faith questions (72%). This is consistent with Barna data through the years that show mothers to be the managers of faith formation (among other household routines and structures). Mothers are also the ones encouraging church attendance (79%) or teaching kids about the Bible (66%), God’s forgiveness (66%) and religious traditions (72%)

2. Balancing Career & Kids
Society has long debated whether women can “have it all”—or what that means in the first place. Christians at Work, a study conducted in partnership with Abilene Christian University, suggests that mothers are making more compromises than fathers do in pursuit of a family and / or a satisfying career. While this group is relatively gratified in their family relationships, Barna’s study of employed Christians shows that working moms (compared with fathers, single men and single women) are well behind on all metrics of satisfaction—relational, spiritual, emotional, you name it. Their attitudes toward vocation also differ. For instance, even though both mothers and fathers share an equal desire to use their gifts and talents for the good of others (64% and 62%), mothers feel significantly less called to or made for their current work than fathers (38% compared to 55%).

Based on this study alone, Barna can’t weigh in on how vocation is experienced among stay-at-home-parents, as the sample was made up of only employed Christians and the aim was to specifically explore vocational attitudes within one’s paid occupation. But as U.S. women increasingly assume the role of sole or at least co-breadwinner, these findings have widespread implications in both the home and workplace. Tellingly, the sweet spot for Christian women’s vocational fulfillment—and, inversely, the low point for male respondents—is actually when they have never even been married. Christians at Work delves more into how single women find a drive and gratification exceeding even that of working fathers.

3. Behind the Steep Decline in Church Attendance in Women
It’s no secret that the rate of the religiously unaffiliated has risen significantly in the last 30 years, and church attendance has declined as well. However, this trend is not consistent across gender or age groups. To test that, political scientist and Barna guest columnist Ryan Burge calculated the average church attendance of both men and women 18–35-years-old as well as those over the age of 35, finding that the average level of church attendance is down for all groups, but the rate of decline is much steeper for women, particularly those in the older age group.

Why is this happening? It’s nearly impossible to point to one causal mechanism, but Burge offers a few explanations as to what may be going on and how churches can support their female congregants during this shift.

4. Meet the Millennial Parents
Data show that while a majority of young adults has delayed having children, there is a small percentage who have chosen to begin a family. Who exactly are the 35 percent of young adults who, unlike the majority of their peers, have children? Barna wanted to know more about this segment—who represent a growing minority of their generation, a counter to many stereotypes about young adults’ delayed adolescence and a fresh area of research.

5. What Americans Think About Women in Power
The makeup of the American workplace is transforming. The amount of women in the labor force has grown from 27 percent in 1948 to 47 percent in 2015. The majority of Americans (77%) is comfortable with the future possibility of more women than men in the workforce, including both men (75%) and women (78%). But the younger generations are more open than their older peers: Millennials, many of whom have come of age in the wake of third-wave feminism, are the most comfortable (84%) compared to 57 percent of Elders. Though a majority of evangelicals are comfortable (52%), they remain the most hesitant, perhaps due to a more traditional interpretation of women’s roles as primary caregivers in the home. More working women means couples with children are approaching child-rearing in a variety of ways. This includes, of course, the more recent phenomenon of the “stay-at-home dad,” a scenario with which most American adults say they are comfortable (82%).

Most Americans share the concern that significant obstacles still make it harder for women to get ahead than men (53%). Three in 10 (30%) believe those obstacles are largely gone. Women are more likely to believe those obstacles exist than men (59% vs. 46%). Interestingly, Boomers are just as likely as Millennials to believe obstacles still exist (58% and 57%), suggesting that little has changed between the generations. Evangelicals are the most skeptical of the existence of barriers for women in the workplace. Less than one-third (32%)—fewer than any other segment Barna studied—believes significant obstacles still exist.

This Q&A excerpt from The Connected Generation report features Dorit Reichstein Hejslet, Communications for Open Doors Denmark and mother to three children, a Millennial parent sharing her take on parenting as a young adult and her hopes for the future.

 

Feature image by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash.

The post Commitment to Family, Faith, Career & Community: Mothers Juggle It All appeared first on Barna Group.

How Pew Research Center is covering COVID-19

Pew Research - Sat, 02/05/2020 - 3:44am

We're committed to informing the public with facts about the far-reaching impact that this global pandemic is having on our society.

The post How Pew Research Center is covering COVID-19 appeared first on Pew Research Center.

Few Protestant Churches Met in Person for Worship Services in April

Lifeway Research - Sat, 02/05/2020 - 1:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As federal, state and local governments weigh relaxing stay-at-home guidelines, most churches continued to avoid gathering physically throughout April.

Nine in 10 Protestant pastors say their congregations did not meet for an in-person worship service last month, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

A previous study from LifeWay Research found 99% of churches gathered physically at the beginning of March, but that dropped to 7% by March 29.

Despite Easter falling during the month, churches continued to avoid meeting in April. The latest LifeWay Research survey found those choosing to gather in person remained flat on April 5 and April 12, Easter Sunday, at 7%. Fewer gathered on April 19 (4%) and April 26 (6%).

“By the end of March, the gravity of the pandemic had changed churches’ behavior across the nation,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “The need for precautions did not change throughout April and churches maintained their temporary avoidance of gathering physically.”

Most pastors are making plans now for meeting again when local government restrictions and guidance against churches meeting are lifted, but few say they’re going to return to normal immediately.

Three in 10 (30%) say they plan to resume worship services first with small groups beginning to meet later. Around a quarter (23%) say they’re going to wait a few additional weeks and then resume activities gradually. Almost 1 in 6 (16%) are planning on resuming all normal activities right away, while 7% are starting up small groups first and in-person worship services later.

A quarter (24%) say they have not yet made any plans for resuming activities, and 1% say they never stopped their in-person activities.

Move to digital

As churches adjusted to a lack of physical gatherings in April, even more attempted to move services online.

Almost all churches (97%) offered some type of digital worship service option, up from 92% in March.

In April, around a quarter (22%) say they continued livestreaming their sermon or worship service as they were already doing before the pandemic.

Close to half (45%) say they don’t typically livestream but did so in April because of the coronavirus. Three in 10 (30%) say they didn’t livestream but did post a video sermon for their congregation to view at any time.

The coronavirus outbreak has caused some previously hesitant churches to adopt online giving. Almost 1 in 6 pastors (16%) say their church has added an online giving option since the pandemic began. Close to half (48%) say they continue to offer online giving as they did previously.

More than a third (35%) say their church does not currently offer the ability to give online.

Still, online giving among Protestant churches has grown considerably since 2017 when LifeWay Research found 30% offered a giving option on their website.

“The technological strides churches have made the last six weeks are amazing,” said McConnell. “Before the pandemic the majority of churches did not livestream services or offer online giving methods. Now two-thirds offer each and almost all churches have offered some online sermons or worship.”

Lasting impact

Two in 5 pastors (40%) say giving has decreased compared to earlier this year. A similar number (42%) say giving has continued at similar levels. Few (9%) say giving has increased, while 9% are not sure.

Among those who say giving is down, 3 in 10 (30%) say it has dropped less than 25%. More than half (54%) say giving has decreased more than 25%, with 18% reporting it being down 50% or more.

These numbers are less bleak than the perception of pastors in March when 52% said giving was down from earlier in the year, 18% said it was flat and 2% said it had increased. More than a quarter (28%) were not sure what to expect.

“It took a few weeks after the last offering plate was passed, but fewer churches are finding themselves behind financially from where they were before COVID-19,” said McConnell. “Members mailed checks, churches added online giving options, the worst fears receded, and generosity emerged. Yet more churches are having to work with less than we have seen in our last 10 years of tracking giving.”

Unfortunately, McConnell added, April did not bode well for future church finances as more pastors reported having church members lose jobs and working fewer hours last month. “The lost income of attendees will challenge churches in the days ahead to do more with less and to care for the growing needs of others.”

In March, 75% of Protestant pastors said someone in their church has had their income impacted by reduced hours at work and 42% said someone had lost their job. Both of those numbers increased in April. Now, 84% say an attendee has less income due to reduced hours and 57% say they’ve had someone in their congregation lose their job.

One in 5 pastors (20%) say an attendee has been diagnosed with COVID-19, up from 5% in March.

Pastors did note some positive news. Many say attendees have helped each other with tangible needs (83%), new people who have not attended their church in the past have attended or connected online (77%), and attendees have met tangible needs in their community connected to the coronavirus (71%).

Some say an attendee has had the opportunity to share the gospel (35%). Almost 1 in 10 pastors (8%) say someone in their church has seen someone make a commitment to follow Christ after sharing the gospel.

Government aid

Two in 5 Protestant pastors (40%) say their church has applied for government assistance offered through the CARES Act or the Small Business Administration, while 56% say they have not. Around a quarter (23%) of pastors say their application was accepted, which means that of those who applied, 59% were approved for assistance.

“There are a variety of motives churches have had for applying or not applying for government assistance,” said McConnell. “As the window of opportunity closes, the majority have chosen not to apply.”

The smaller the church, the less likely they were to have applied for aid. Half of pastors at churches that average 200 in attendance or more (50%) say their church applied for aid, with 36% of all large church pastors saying they’ve already been approved.

Among churches with 100 to 199 in attendance, 44% applied. Among pastors of churches with 50 to 99 attendees, 36% say they submitted an application. A third (33%) of churches with fewer than 50 in attendance applied.

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The online survey of 470 Protestant pastors was conducted April 27-29, 2020. Invitations were emailed to the LifeWay Research Pastor Panel followed by two reminders. The probability sample of Protestant churches was created by phone recruiting by LifeWay Research using random samples selected from all Protestant churches. Pastors who agree to be contacted by email for future surveys make up this LifeWay Research Pastor Panel.

Each survey was completed by the senior or sole pastor or a minister at the church. Responses were weighted by church average attendance, region, ethnicity of pastor, and whether the pastor self-identified as evangelical or mainline to more accurately reflect the population.

The final sample is 470 useable surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 5.0%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Download the research

Most Protestant Pastors See Human Activity Behind Global Warming

Lifeway Research - Wed, 22/04/2020 - 2:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For the first time, a majority of Protestant pastors believe global warming is happening and caused by humans.

A survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found 53% of Protestant pastors agree with the statement, “I believe global warming is real and man-made,” including 34% who strongly agree.

More than a third (38%) disagree, including 24% who strongly disagree. One in 10 (10%) say they’re not sure.

In previous LifeWay Research surveys on the topic, pastors were evenly split or more skeptical. In 2008, 47% agreed. That fell to 36% in 2010 and bounced back to 43% in 2012.

“Fewer pastors are rejecting global warming and climate change out of hand,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Yet pastors are still split on the subject, likely following along with political divides.”

A 2019 Pew Research study found 49% of U.S. adults say human activity contributes to global climate change a great deal, 30% say some, and 20% say not too much or not at all.

When asked how much natural patterns in the Earth’s environment contribute, 35% of Americans say a great deal, 44% say some, and 20% say not too much or not at all.

Differences of opinion among pastors in the LifeWay Research survey emerge throughout demographics and denominational ties.

African American pastors (78%) are most likely to agree.

The youngest pastors, aged 18-44, (59%) are more likely to agree than pastors 65 and older (47%).

Pastors with a doctoral (59%) or master’s degree (58%) are more likely to agree than those with a bachelor’s degree (43%) or no college degree (35%).

Mainline pastors (71%) are significantly more likely to agree than evangelical pastors (39%).

Pastors from Methodist (80%), Presbyterian/Reformed (67%), or Lutheran churches (63%) are more likely to agree than those from Restorationist movement (43%), Baptist (37%), or Pentecostal churches (32%).

Environmental actions

A majority of Protestant pastors (54%) also say their church has taken tangible steps to reduce their carbon footprint, up from 45% in 2012.

More than a third (36%) say they have not taken those steps, while 10% aren’t sure.

Among those pastors who agree global warming is real and man-made, 70% say their church has worked to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Climate change can be a difficult issue to address because the causes and effects are not always easily seen where you live,” said McConnell. “Much like the current coronavirus pandemic, environmental mitigation efforts require trust in the scientists measuring the problem and finding the best solutions that balance all of the concerns involved.”

Pastors in the Northeast (62%) are more likely to agree than those in the South (50%).

Mainline pastors (67%) are also more likely to agree than evangelicals (47%).

Among the denominational families, Presbyterian/Reformed (69%), Methodist (67%), and Lutheran pastors (64%) are more likely to say their church has taken tangible steps to reduce their carbon footprint than Pentecostal (41%) or Baptist pastors (39%).

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted Aug. 30 – Sept. 24, 2019. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size.

Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys.

The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.3%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Comparisons are also made to the following telephone surveys using the same methodology:

  • 1,002 pastors conducted October 13-29, 2008
  • 1,000 pastors conducted October 7-14, 2010
  • 1,000 pastors conducted September 26 – October 3, 2012

Download the research

Faith Formation at Home: Free Resource from Barna Group

Barna Blog - Tue, 21/04/2020 - 10:00pm

How do our core relationships engage us in a thoughtful, transformative faith—the kind that holds up to and is passed down over time? What does a board game with your kids have to do with spiritual formation and development? Do beliefs transcend generations, and if so, is this beneficial? These were some of the guiding questions of Barna’s Households of Faith report, the second in a series of studies produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries and based on an extensive study of practicing Christians and their living arrangements and routines.

In a season when most of us are sheltering in place, the opportunities we have to nurture faith in our homes seem more present—and pressing—than ever. That is why, for a limited time, Barna is offering the Households of Faith report for free as a digital download. Click here to get your free copy—simply use the promo code HOUSEHOLDS at checkout to receive the digital report for free.

As mentioned above, Households of Faith is our second report produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries. The third study is launching this week at the Q Virtual Summit. You can get an advance copy of the report here today: Better Together: How Christians Can Be a Welcome Influence in Their Neighborhoods.

Below, we offer a glimpse into some of the key findings from this report.

1. What Makes for a Spiritually Vibrant Household?

One of the goals of this study was to learn from households that appear to be exceptionally engaged in communal and consistent faith expression in the home. Barna developed a custom metric that sorts households by reports of collective, frequent engagement in key behaviors:

  • Spiritual practices—defined here as praying every day or two and reading the Bible weekly all together
  • Spiritual conversations—defined here as talking about God and faith at least weekly all together
  • Hospitality—defined here as welcoming non-family guests regularly, or at least several times a month

Households that participate in all of these activities at this frequency are what Barna refers to as spiritually Vibrant. A quarter of respondents in this study (25%) describes a household environment that is Vibrant. Others describe homes that are Devotional (only participate in spiritual practices and spiritual conversations), Hospitable (only practice hospitality) or Dormant (participate in none of the above).

Practicing Christians who intentionally cultivate a spiritual environment in their household are simply intentional to begin with. Good fun, good work and good faith seem to go hand in hand, indicating spiritual growth is yet another way of being present, interested and engaged in the lives of those around you, or vice versa.

Vibrant households stand out in that they have meaningful, fun, quality time with both their housemates and extended household members. These are practicing Christians who know the meaning of play—and indeed, half call their home life “playful.” Every day or so, members of Vibrant households come together for games (32%). They share meals (63% eat breakfast together and 75% eat dinner together) as well as their feelings (59%) on almost a daily basis. Vibrancy also correlates with group discipline, like working on the house or yard together (34% every day or two) or hosting household or family meetings (68%).

2. The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christian Households

Today’s Christian teen consistently identifies their mother as the principal housemate for almost all activities. From eating meals together (85%) and watching TV or movies (81%), to talking about God (70%) and having confrontations (63%), mothers are the primary activity partner for their teens. They are second only to friendships even when it comes to using their phones for texting (69% mothers vs. 73% friendships) and calling (61% vs. 71%).

According to practicing Christian teens, mothers are the go-to person for all kinds of support: advice (78%), encouragement (75%) and sympathy (72%). Meanwhile, fathers play a somewhat key role in meeting teens’ tangible needs for money (74%) and logistical help (63%), though even on these two issues, they are somewhat on par with mothers. As mothers are seen as advisors and encouragers, teens report approaching them with tougher topics. Even conversations about sex (41%) aren’t off limits between teens and moms.

Practicing Christians in their teen years consistently identify mothers as the ones who provide spiritual guidance and instruction and instill the values and disciplines of their faith in the household. Moms are their foremost partners in prayer (63%) and conversations about God (70%), the Bible (71%) or other faith questions (72%).

3. How Faith Heritage Relates to Faith Practice

A majority of practicing Christians tells Barna they became Christians long before adulthood, usually before they were 12 years old. This is true regardless of the type of household practicing Christians now occupy. For most practicing Christian adults in this study, the early, formative days of discipleship occur in their family of origin.

Usually, respondents say Christianity was “passed down” to them by a particular relative (59%), though sometimes another family member was exploring faith around the same time as the respondent (11%). More than half of those who report growing up in the faith (57%) say they were Christian at the time of their birth, a response that is revealing either of their theology or of how extensively Christianity permeated their upbringing. Practicing Christians most often credit their parents as the individuals who helped impart faith to them.

A person’s experience with Christianity while growing up does seem linked to their belief system even into adulthood, but a strong Christian heritage does not automatically equate to a strong Christian faith. Rather, taking ownership of one’s beliefs or finding rich community may be required to build upon—or overcome—the spiritual experiences of one’s upbringing.

 

Feature image by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

 

The post Faith Formation at Home: Free Resource from Barna Group appeared first on Barna Group.

Faith Formation at Home: Free Resource from Barna Group

Barna - Tue, 21/04/2020 - 10:00pm

How do our core relationships engage us in a thoughtful, transformative faith—the kind that holds up to and is passed down over time? What does a board game with your kids have to do with spiritual formation and development? Do beliefs transcend generations, and if so, is this beneficial? These were some of the guiding questions of Barna’s Households of Faith report, the second in a series of studies produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries and based on an extensive study of practicing Christians and their living arrangements and routines.

In a season when most of us are sheltering in place, the opportunities we have to nurture faith in our homes seem more present—and pressing—than ever. That is why, for a limited time, Barna is offering the Households of Faith report for free as a digital download. Click here to get your free copy—simply use the promo code HOUSEHOLDS at checkout to receive the digital report for free.

As mentioned above, Households of Faith is our second report produced in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries. The third study is launching this week at the Q Virtual Summit. You can get an advance copy of the report here today: Better Together: How Christians Can Be a Welcome Influence in Their Neighborhoods.

Below, we offer a glimpse into some of the key findings from this report.

1. What Makes for a Spiritually Vibrant Household?

One of the goals of this study was to learn from households that appear to be exceptionally engaged in communal and consistent faith expression in the home. Barna developed a custom metric that sorts households by reports of collective, frequent engagement in key behaviors:

  • Spiritual practices—defined here as praying every day or two and reading the Bible weekly all together
  • Spiritual conversations—defined here as talking about God and faith at least weekly all together
  • Hospitality—defined here as welcoming non-family guests regularly, or at least several times a month

Households that participate in all of these activities at this frequency are what Barna refers to as spiritually Vibrant. A quarter of respondents in this study (25%) describes a household environment that is Vibrant. Others describe homes that are Devotional (only participate in spiritual practices and spiritual conversations), Hospitable (only practice hospitality) or Dormant (participate in none of the above).

Practicing Christians who intentionally cultivate a spiritual environment in their household are simply intentional to begin with. Good fun, good work and good faith seem to go hand in hand, indicating spiritual growth is yet another way of being present, interested and engaged in the lives of those around you, or vice versa.

Vibrant households stand out in that they have meaningful, fun, quality time with both their housemates and extended household members. These are practicing Christians who know the meaning of play—and indeed, half call their home life “playful.” Every day or so, members of Vibrant households come together for games (32%). They share meals (63% eat breakfast together and 75% eat dinner together) as well as their feelings (59%) on almost a daily basis. Vibrancy also correlates with group discipline, like working on the house or yard together (34% every day or two) or hosting household or family meetings (68%).

2. The Powerful Influence of Moms in Christian Households

Today’s Christian teen consistently identifies their mother as the principal housemate for almost all activities. From eating meals together (85%) and watching TV or movies (81%), to talking about God (70%) and having confrontations (63%), mothers are the primary activity partner for their teens. They are second only to friendships even when it comes to using their phones for texting (69% mothers vs. 73% friendships) and calling (61% vs. 71%).

According to practicing Christian teens, mothers are the go-to person for all kinds of support: advice (78%), encouragement (75%) and sympathy (72%). Meanwhile, fathers play a somewhat key role in meeting teens’ tangible needs for money (74%) and logistical help (63%), though even on these two issues, they are somewhat on par with mothers. As mothers are seen as advisors and encouragers, teens report approaching them with tougher topics. Even conversations about sex (41%) aren’t off limits between teens and moms.

Practicing Christians in their teen years consistently identify mothers as the ones who provide spiritual guidance and instruction and instill the values and disciplines of their faith in the household. Moms are their foremost partners in prayer (63%) and conversations about God (70%), the Bible (71%) or other faith questions (72%).

3. How Faith Heritage Relates to Faith Practice

A majority of practicing Christians tells Barna they became Christians long before adulthood, usually before they were 12 years old. This is true regardless of the type of household practicing Christians now occupy. For most practicing Christian adults in this study, the early, formative days of discipleship occur in their family of origin.

Usually, respondents say Christianity was “passed down” to them by a particular relative (59%), though sometimes another family member was exploring faith around the same time as the respondent (11%). More than half of those who report growing up in the faith (57%) say they were Christian at the time of their birth, a response that is revealing either of their theology or of how extensively Christianity permeated their upbringing. Practicing Christians most often credit their parents as the individuals who helped impart faith to them.

A person’s experience with Christianity while growing up does seem linked to their belief system even into adulthood, but a strong Christian heritage does not automatically equate to a strong Christian faith. Rather, taking ownership of one’s beliefs or finding rich community may be required to build upon—or overcome—the spiritual experiences of one’s upbringing.

 

Feature image by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

 

The post Faith Formation at Home: Free Resource from Barna Group appeared first on Barna Group.

7 Questions on the Daily Impact of the Coronavirus

Pew Research - Thu, 16/04/2020 - 5:25am

The Pew Research Center’s Claudia Deane summarized recent survey findings, including Americans’ views of the impact on their daily life, their concerns about the economy, and trust levels in government and the health system on the After The Fact podcast from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The post 7 Questions on the Daily Impact of the Coronavirus appeared first on Pew Research Center.

Easter & Beyond: 8 Tips for Churches to Consider as They Prepare Digital Services

Barna Blog - Wed, 08/04/2020 - 2:44pm

Recent Barna data show that, in light of the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing guidelines, a majority of U.S. pastors (70%) intends to hold a digital Easter service this year, with 51 percent sharing plans to livestream online and another 19 percent recording an Easter message—whether by video or podcast—to send out to congregants.

As church leaders prepare for this digital Easter, as well as services beyond the upcoming holy day, we want to share some tips, advice and insights offered by faith experts and fellow church leaders for the current moment and coming days.

For further analysis and more advice on how other pastors are leading in this new era of ministry, tune into the ChurchPulse Weekly podcast, broadcast live each Monday with new episodes available each Thursday wherever you get your podcasts.

Be Authentic
“If you as a pastor have a certain way you preach or approach [the Easter message], I think it’s important for you to do your best to bring who you are to the message,” Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and Innovation Leader at Life.Church and founder of the YouVersion Bible app, recently shared on the ChurchPulse Weekly podcast. “It’s great if you can have some level of worship incorporated in it as well. It doesn’t have to be the same type of experience as you would have in your physical environment. … So whatever that looks like—people are relatively forgiving right now—I would incorporate some aspect of worship into what’s being built for Easter.”

Don’t Feel Pressure to Get All the Gear
“Even if you’re not doing weekly online gatherings right now, there should be sufficient time to build some type of a video experience [for Easter],” encourages Gruenewald. “If all you have is a smartphone to record, it’s possible to get a reasonable quality video. I also know that there are some larger churches that are, if possible, opening up their studios to let smaller churches record their Easter services. I think this is a great example of how churches that have resources can help support churches that don’t during this time.” 

Less Is More
“It’s always better to do less, but do it at a higher quality,” says Joe Jensen, Director of Strategic Projects and Church Engagement at Barna. “I think a lot of churches are a little frustrated right now because what they usually produce on a Sunday morning is nearly impossible to reproduce on a digital platform. Don’t feel like you have to replicate exactly what you do on a Sunday morning. Like Bobby [Gruenewald] said, do worship when you can, but don’t feel like you have to do it exactly as you would on a Sunday if you don’t have the capabilities to deliver that online.”

“This also goes for presenters,” continues Jensen. “Perhaps this means when you’re teaching, you simplify your main points so your audience can more easily engage with the message. I also think there are some implications here for kids and youth. It’s great if you can have kids’ programming, but one of the positive aspects of what’s going on right now is that families are engaging church together. So, be true to yourself, but also think about how you’re engaging the family as a whole, not just the adults.” 

Go Live When Possible
“What my husband and I have been doing and what I’ve been encouraging others to do is to answer questions real-time,” notes Nona Jones, head of faith-based partnerships at Facebook and co-pastor at Open Door Ministries in Gainesville, Florida. “Invite people to ask questions, invite people to comment. If you can, go live. Acknowledge [your congregants] as they come online; people need that acknowledgement right now more than anything.”

Be Intentionally Relational in a Time of Social Distance
“There are practical, simple ways for you to be relational in the digital spaces,” explains Jensen. “For example, something as simple as looking into the camera, and not into your phone screen, really makes a difference. It allows your congregants, who are on the other side of that screen, to feel like you are holding a conversation with them instead of preaching at them. Don’t talk at people; talk with people. Imagine there is someone on the other side of that screen and speak to them like you would if you were in the same room as them. Carry that mentality into your sermon delivery.”

“Also think through how you want to keep up with your people in the digital space in order to facilitate relationships,” continues Jensen. “Keep this at the forefront of your mind so that you can remind them of this throughout the sermon, make a clear pathway for them to communicate with you and then follow through with that and reach out during the week.” 

Empower Your Congregants to Invite Others to Join
“We’re giving people digital assets to share [with others],” says Bianca Juarez Olthoff of her church’s digital Easter plan. Olthoff, co-pastor of The Father’s House Church in Southern California and the founder of In The Name of Love, continues, “We’re using YouTube Premiere, which interfaces like a live stream, and we’re preloading the message. We want to make it simple [for people to join] and that’s why we’re opting to use the premiere option and then sending the digital link with the assets for people to share online. We’re telling everyone that they’re evangelists.”

Spread the Word: Easter Is Not Canceled
“Our whole theme for Easter is ‘Easter is not canceled,’ and we really want to put that message out there,” says Jud Wilhite,­­­­­ Senior Pastor of Central Church in Las Vegas. “The way we’re doing that is—and there are a few practical ideas that people may steal, because that’s what we do in the church world—we’re challenging everyone to do the ‘5 Things You’re Grateful For’ post and ending it with [our church’s landing page for Easter services].”

“The second thing is chalking the driveways. We challenged people this weekend to go out in their driveways to chalk out messages of hope and ‘Easter is not canceled.’ And the third thing we’re doing is challenging people to record a really basic song and we’re going to make a massive collage video from that to be our Easter opener. We’re trying to bring people into being a part of Easter this year, from an invitation standpoint.”

Have an Easter Mentality Every Day
Whatever the church service looks like, Jensen reminds churches of their role in celebrating the importance of Easter, not just as a holiday, but as a symbol of Christ’s victory over the grave that should be celebrated daily.

“Every day is a resurrection Sunday in the sense that Easter is more than an event, it’s really more of a way of life for us as Christians,” offers Jensen. “It’s the pinnacle of our faith. I want to encourage church leaders to not be disappointed if they don’t have Easter plans as far as an event or program is concerned. Instead, let’s think about how we can have an Easter mentality every day. As leaders, let’s first grab onto the hope offered by the resurrection, and then impart that to our people. Let’s be thinking about the Monday after Easter, because that day is just as important as Easter Sunday. Every day is the day where we hold the resurrection up and celebrate it because it is the foundation of our hope and our faith.”

 

Feature image by Obed Hernández on Unsplash.

The post Easter & Beyond: 8 Tips for Churches to Consider as They Prepare Digital Services appeared first on Barna Group.

Easter & Beyond: 8 Tips for Churches to Consider as They Prepare Digital Services

Barna - Wed, 08/04/2020 - 2:44pm

Recent Barna data show that, in light of the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing guidelines, a majority of U.S. pastors (70%) intends to hold a digital Easter service this year, with 51 percent sharing plans to livestream online and another 19 percent recording an Easter message—whether by video or podcast—to send out to congregants.

As church leaders prepare for this digital Easter, as well as services beyond the upcoming holy day, we want to share some tips, advice and insights offered by faith experts and fellow church leaders for the current moment and coming days.

For further analysis and more advice on how other pastors are leading in this new era of ministry, tune into the ChurchPulse Weekly podcast, broadcast live each Monday with new episodes available each Thursday wherever you get your podcasts.

Be Authentic
“If you as a pastor have a certain way you preach or approach [the Easter message], I think it’s important for you to do your best to bring who you are to the message,” Bobby Gruenewald, pastor and Innovation Leader at Life.Church and founder of the YouVersion Bible app, recently shared on the ChurchPulse Weekly podcast. “It’s great if you can have some level of worship incorporated in it as well. It doesn’t have to be the same type of experience as you would have in your physical environment. … So whatever that looks like—people are relatively forgiving right now—I would incorporate some aspect of worship into what’s being built for Easter.”

Don’t Feel Pressure to Get All the Gear
“Even if you’re not doing weekly online gatherings right now, there should be sufficient time to build some type of a video experience [for Easter],” encourages Gruenewald. “If all you have is a smartphone to record, it’s possible to get a reasonable quality video. I also know that there are some larger churches that are, if possible, opening up their studios to let smaller churches record their Easter services. I think this is a great example of how churches that have resources can help support churches that don’t during this time.” 

Less Is More
“It’s always better to do less, but do it at a higher quality,” says Joe Jensen, Director of Strategic Projects and Church Engagement at Barna. “I think a lot of churches are a little frustrated right now because what they usually produce on a Sunday morning is nearly impossible to reproduce on a digital platform. Don’t feel like you have to replicate exactly what you do on a Sunday morning. Like Bobby [Gruenewald] said, do worship when you can, but don’t feel like you have to do it exactly as you would on a Sunday if you don’t have the capabilities to deliver that online.”

“This also goes for presenters,” continues Jensen. “Perhaps this means when you’re teaching, you simplify your main points so your audience can more easily engage with the message. I also think there are some implications here for kids and youth. It’s great if you can have kids’ programming, but one of the positive aspects of what’s going on right now is that families are engaging church together. So, be true to yourself, but also think about how you’re engaging the family as a whole, not just the adults.” 

Go Live When Possible
“What my husband and I have been doing and what I’ve been encouraging others to do is to answer questions real-time,” notes Nona Jones, head of faith-based partnerships at Facebook and co-pastor at Open Door Ministries in Gainesville, Florida. “Invite people to ask questions, invite people to comment. If you can, go live. Acknowledge [your congregants] as they come online; people need that acknowledgement right now more than anything.”

Be Intentionally Relational in a Time of Social Distance
“There are practical, simple ways for you to be relational in the digital spaces,” explains Jensen. “For example, something as simple as looking into the camera, and not into your phone screen, really makes a difference. It allows your congregants, who are on the other side of that screen, to feel like you are holding a conversation with them instead of preaching at them. Don’t talk at people; talk with people. Imagine there is someone on the other side of that screen and speak to them like you would if you were in the same room as them. Carry that mentality into your sermon delivery.”

“Also think through how you want to keep up with your people in the digital space in order to facilitate relationships,” continues Jensen. “Keep this at the forefront of your mind so that you can remind them of this throughout the sermon, make a clear pathway for them to communicate with you and then follow through with that and reach out during the week.” 

Empower Your Congregants to Invite Others to Join
“We’re giving people digital assets to share [with others],” says Bianca Juarez Olthoff of her church’s digital Easter plan. Olthoff, co-pastor of The Father’s House Church in Southern California and the founder of In The Name of Love, continues, “We’re using YouTube Premiere, which interfaces like a live stream, and we’re preloading the message. We want to make it simple [for people to join] and that’s why we’re opting to use the premiere option and then sending the digital link with the assets for people to share online. We’re telling everyone that they’re evangelists.”

Spread the Word: Easter Is Not Canceled
“Our whole theme for Easter is ‘Easter is not canceled,’ and we really want to put that message out there,” says Jud Wilhite,­­­­­ Senior Pastor of Central Church in Las Vegas. “The way we’re doing that is—and there are a few practical ideas that people may steal, because that’s what we do in the church world—we’re challenging everyone to do the ‘5 Things You’re Grateful For’ post and ending it with [our church’s landing page for Easter services].”

“The second thing is chalking the driveways. We challenged people this weekend to go out in their driveways to chalk out messages of hope and ‘Easter is not canceled.’ And the third thing we’re doing is challenging people to record a really basic song and we’re going to make a massive collage video from that to be our Easter opener. We’re trying to bring people into being a part of Easter this year, from an invitation standpoint.”

Have an Easter Mentality Every Day
Whatever the church service looks like, Jensen reminds churches of their role in celebrating the importance of Easter, not just as a holiday, but as a symbol of Christ’s victory over the grave that should be celebrated daily.

“Every day is a resurrection Sunday in the sense that Easter is more than an event, it’s really more of a way of life for us as Christians,” offers Jensen. “It’s the pinnacle of our faith. I want to encourage church leaders to not be disappointed if they don’t have Easter plans as far as an event or program is concerned. Instead, let’s think about how we can have an Easter mentality every day. As leaders, let’s first grab onto the hope offered by the resurrection, and then impart that to our people. Let’s be thinking about the Monday after Easter, because that day is just as important as Easter Sunday. Every day is the day where we hold the resurrection up and celebrate it because it is the foundation of our hope and our faith.”

 

Feature image by Obed Hernández on Unsplash.

The post Easter & Beyond: 8 Tips for Churches to Consider as They Prepare Digital Services appeared first on Barna Group.

Vast Majority of Pastors See Signs of End Times in Current Events

Lifeway Research - Wed, 08/04/2020 - 2:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Almost 9 in 10 pastors see at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur shortly before he returns to Earth, according to a new survey focused on Christian eschatology, or the study of end times.

A study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research of pastors at evangelical and historically black churches found 97% say they believe Jesus Christ will literally and personally return to Earth again.

“While Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, many pastors believe they see signs his return may be close,” said Scott McConnell, executive director LifeWay Research. “These sentiments were expressed in January before the prospect of a global pandemic became known.”

In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples asked him about signs of his coming, and he responded by speaking of “birth pains” that would precede his return.

Darrell Bock, New Testament studies professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, noted that the Bible has several lists of potential signs of Jesus’ return, like the Olivet Discourse passages of Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21, and some include concepts of global sicknesses.

“Numerous biblical texts speak of disturbances in the creation that disorient and trouble people,” said Bock. “These disturbances have quite a range with earthquakes and wars being the most common. However, Jesus mentions plagues or pestilence explicitly in Luke 21.”

According to Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries, the idea of birth pains is not unique to the New Testament or evangelicals, as he said Ultra-Orthodox Jews also believe that these types of signs are indicators of the Messiah’s coming.

“The term used in rabbinic literature, ‘birth pangs of Mashiach,’ is similar to the Olivet Discourse,” Glaser said. “The pandemic is viewed in this way by many religious Jewish people who share a heightened Messianic expectation with evangelicals.”

In the study sponsored by a group of ministries led by Chosen People and conducted in early 2020, LifeWay Research asked pastors if they considered certain current events to be included in Jesus’ warnings.

At least 3 in 4 pastors agree Jesus was referring to current events including the rise of false prophets and false teachings (83%), the love of many believers growing cold (81%), traditional morals becoming less accepted (79%), wars and national conflicts (78%), earthquakes and other natural disasters (76%), and people abandoning their Christian faith (75%).

Clear majorities also see famines (70%) and anti-Semitism toward Jewish people worldwide (63%) as signs of Jesus’ return.

Around 1 in 10 pastors (11%) say they don’t consider any of these part of the birth pains to which Jesus was referring.

“For too long many pastors have shied away from teaching on birth pains and events leading up to the second coming,” said best-selling author Joel Rosenberg, “but the current pandemic demonstrates the need for solid, non-sensational preaching done in a biblical manner.”

More than half of pastors (56%) expect Jesus to return in their lifetime.

Perhaps due in part to those beliefs, 89% of evangelical and historically black church pastors say that communicating the urgency of Christ’s return is important.

While most say they expect Jesus to return while they’re still alive, as many pastors say they’re not sure (24%) as say they strongly agree (25%). Three in 10 somewhat agree (31%), while 20% disagree, including 6% who strongly disagree.

Among those more likely to disagree Jesus will return during their lifetime are pastors ages 18 to 44 (27%) and pastors of churches with 250 or more in attendance (28%).

“Whether Jesus’ return is near or far, Christians believe these disturbances represent the groaning of creation, reminders of our mortality, our need for God and the accountability we have to him for life, both now and forever,” said Bock.

Other signs

Pastors are also likely to see several events related to Israel and the Jewish people as fulfillment of biblical prophecy and signs of the end times.

Seven in 10 evangelical or black Protestant pastors (70%) say the modern rebirth of the state of Israel and the regathering of millions of Jewish people were fulfillments of prophecies in the Bible.

Similar numbers (69%) say those events show Christ’s return is closer.

Around 2 in 5 pastors (39%) agree that the establishment of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is a sign of the end times.

Most (62%) believe another temple will be built in Jerusalem in accordance with a prophecy in Ezekiel 40-48.

Many make end times connections to Israel and specifically Jerusalem, in part, because 73% believe that Christ will return and reign in Jerusalem in fulfillment of God’s promises to David.

More than half of pastors (57%) believe the Bible teaches that one day most or all Jewish people alive will believe in Jesus.

Close to 3 in 5 (59%) say Jesus will return when the Jewish people accept Jesus.

Nearly all pastors (98%) believe sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important.

Among those who believe Jewish evangelism is vital, they give a variety of reasons why.

More than 99% say it is important to share the gospel with all people groups. Nine in 10 pastors (89%) say because Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. More than 4 in 5 (82%) believe Jewish people are special in God’s sight. The same percentage point to God’s promise to preserve a faithful remnant of Jewish people.

Around two-thirds of pastors (67%) say sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important because Apostle Paul’s pattern was to evangelize Jewish people first. More than a quarter (28%) say Jewish evangelism will speed up the return of Christ.

“There are details of Christ’s return and his reign that scholars disagree on,” said McConnell. “However, the vast majority of pastors believe certain current events correspond with prophesies Jesus himself gave about things that would occur right before he returns.”

End times teaching

Regardless of how close they believe the return of Christ is, most pastors feel confident in teaching on the subject.

Virtually all evangelical and black Protestant pastors (94%) say they feel equipped to teach on the prophecies found in the Bible, though more than a third did not give the highest level of agreement.

Most pastors also believe it is important to study and teach on biblical prophecies and eschatology.

Around 3 in 5 say it is important to preach on end times prophecies in the book of Revelation (60%) and the Old Testament (60%), as well as spend time personally studying eschatology (57%).

A quarter of pastors (24%) speak to their congregations about end times prophecies at least once a month. Close to half (48%) say they do so several times a year.

Around 1 in 10 pastors say they talk about it with their church about once a year (11%). The same number (11%) say they do so rarely. Few say they never speak to their congregation about those prophecies (3%).

“The current global pandemic will create interest among churchgoers and nonreligious people about what the Bible says about plagues, disasters, and the end times,” said McConnell. “The urgency pastors feel is less about stockpiling toilet paper and more about helping people be ready for Christ’s return.”

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The phone survey of 1,000 pastors from evangelical and historically black denominations was conducted Jan. 24 to Feb. 11, 2020 and was sponsored by Chosen People Ministries, Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, Rich and Judy Hastings, and the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all evangelical and historically black churches. Quotas were used for church size.

Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.2%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Download the research

8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age

Barna Blog - Fri, 03/04/2020 - 4:00pm

With church and school closures due to COVID-19, adults are leaning on technology to help with in-home learning, and parents have an unprecedented opportunity to tap technology to help children engage spiritually. A new study—Guiding Children to Discover the Bible, Navigate Technology & Follow Jesus—by Barna Group, produced in partnership with OneHope, reveals that even though tech is pervasive for kids, most parents and churches aren’t leveraging it for Bible engagement for children. 

“This is clearly seen in our findings that show a substantial dip in Bible engagement for 10–12-year-olds,” says Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope. “Right as they enter an age where they are ready for more, we’re giving them less.”

According to data in the Guiding Children study, six in 10 (58%) highly engaged Christian parents choose a church based on the children’s programming. “Regular church engagement, though important for growing a consistent faith life, doesn’t appear to have as significant an effect as regularly interacting with scripture,” says Brooke Hempell, Senior Vice President of Research at Barna.

“We feel called to reach children wherever they are,” explains Hoskins. “If they are in the digital realm, then tech is where we are going to meet them. We hope parents will commit to using whatever means necessary to develop spiritual formation and faith development tools to feed our kids from the richness of God’s word.”

Data from Guiding Children highlights several key challenges—and opportunities—for parents and ministry leaders in children’s faith formation, including the vital role of Bible engagement, the changing landscape of tech and media and the ongoing importance of church and communities in cultivating resilient faith.

This one-page infographic offers “8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask Themselves to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age,” including:

  • Am I intentionally providing connection points for the young parents I serve?
  • Have I openly developed a plan with the parents in my ministry for when and how sensitive topics should be addressed with their children.
  • How am I strategically keeping tweens engaged in my ministry so they don’t become the teenagers who lose interest?
  • Do I see myself as a partner to the parents in my ministry?

You can download this infographic to see all of the questions. To learn more about how to guide children in their faith formation whether you’re a parent or ministry leader, check out the  Guiding Children report.

Feature image by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash.

The post 8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age appeared first on Barna Group.

8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age

Barna - Fri, 03/04/2020 - 4:00pm

With church and school closures due to COVID-19, adults are leaning on technology to help with in-home learning, and parents have an unprecedented opportunity to tap technology to help children engage spiritually. A new study—Guiding Children to Discover the Bible, Navigate Technology & Follow Jesus—by Barna Group, produced in partnership with OneHope, reveals that even though tech is pervasive for kids, most parents and churches aren’t leveraging it for Bible engagement for children. 

“This is clearly seen in our findings that show a substantial dip in Bible engagement for 10–12-year-olds,” says Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope. “Right as they enter an age where they are ready for more, we’re giving them less.”

According to data in the Guiding Children study, six in 10 (58%) highly engaged Christian parents choose a church based on the children’s programming. “Regular church engagement, though important for growing a consistent faith life, doesn’t appear to have as significant an effect as regularly interacting with scripture,” says Brooke Hempell, Senior Vice President of Research at Barna.

“We feel called to reach children wherever they are,” explains Hoskins. “If they are in the digital realm, then tech is where we are going to meet them. We hope parents will commit to using whatever means necessary to develop spiritual formation and faith development tools to feed our kids from the richness of God’s word.”

Data from Guiding Children highlights several key challenges—and opportunities—for parents and ministry leaders in children’s faith formation, including the vital role of Bible engagement, the changing landscape of tech and media and the ongoing importance of church and communities in cultivating resilient faith.

This one-page infographic offers “8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask Themselves to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age,” including:

  • Am I intentionally providing connection points for the young parents I serve?
  • Have I openly developed a plan with the parents in my ministry for when and how sensitive topics should be addressed with their children.
  • How am I strategically keeping tweens engaged in my ministry so they don’t become the teenagers who lose interest?
  • Do I see myself as a partner to the parents in my ministry?

You can download this infographic to see all of the questions. To learn more about how to guide children in their faith formation whether you’re a parent or ministry leader, check out the  Guiding Children report.

Feature image by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash.

The post 8 Questions Every Children’s Minister Should Ask to Help Kids Navigate Faith in a Digital Age appeared first on Barna Group.

Most Churches Have Stopped Gathering, Few Plan to Meet on Easter

Lifeway Research - Fri, 03/04/2020 - 3:50am

By Aaron Earls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The coronavirus outbreak has had ripple effects across the country, including in U.S. churches, according to a new study of pastors.

Nashville-based LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors how the pandemic has impacted their congregations and what their plans are for the near future.

While nearly all pastors say their church held in-person worship services at the beginning of March, the situation had changed radically by the end of the month.

On the weekend of March 1, 99% say they gathered, while 95% held services the next weekend. By March 15, that number dropped to 64%. And by March 22, 11% of pastors say their churches gathered in person. On March 29, only 7% of pastors say their congregations met in person.

“Gathering for worship as a local church is a fundamental expression of the body of Christ, but so are valuing life and loving others,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “As mitigation guidance first impacted large churches, the majority of churches with 200 or more attendees were not meeting by March 15, and only 1% of them met March 22 as guidance continued to shift.”

Almost half of churches (47%) say they have already decided they will not meet in person for Easter. A small number (3%) say they will have an in-person gathering no matter what.

A significant number say they are in a wait-and-see situation. Close to 1 in 5 (18%) say they will have an in-person gathering if authorities allow gatherings of that size. Another 15% say they will do so if local authorities do not recommend against it. Fewer (7%) say they will have an in-person Easter gathering if in their own judgement they feel it is safe. One in 10 say they’re not sure.

Online services and groups

As churches have moved away from in-person gatherings during the crisis, most were able to transition to some form of an online video replacement.

Fewer than 1 in 10 Protestant pastors (8%) say they did not provide any video sermons or worship services this past month. By contrast, a fall 2019 survey of Protestant pastors found 41% of pastors at that time did not provide any video content for their congregation.

Around 1 in 5 pastors (22%) say their churches were already livestreaming worship services before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and they continued doing so. More than 2 in 5 (43%) say they don’t typically livestream their sermon or worship service, but they did so in the last month because of the coronavirus. Another 27% say they didn’t livestream their service but did post a video sermon online for their congregation to view anytime.

More than half of congregations (55%) say they’ve also moved their adult groups online, while 6% say they’ve continued to meet in person. Meanwhile, 40% say their groups have not met in any capacity during the coronavirus disruption.

“The rapid adoption of providing video content has been just as abrupt as ceasing in-person meetings,” said McConnell. “Churches who never would have considered offering a streaming or video option, have quickly done so. Their pastors were compelled to stay connected and to continue to provide spiritual guidance during this trying time.”

Impact to the church

Protestant pastors say the outbreak has brought both difficulties and opportunities to their congregations.

Most say they’ve seen church attendees help each other with tangible needs (87%) or meet coronavirus-related needs within the community (59%). More than half (55%) say an attendee at their church has been able to share the gospel through this time, with 4% seeing someone make a commitment to follow Christ. Many (44%) say an attendee has counseled someone crippled with fear.

Three in 4 pastors (75%) say someone within their church has had their income impacted by reduced hours at work. Around 2 in 5 (42%) say one of their church attendees has lost their job. And 5% of pastors say they have someone at their church who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Pastors in the West (16%) and Northeast (13%) are more likely than those in the South (2%) or Midwest (1%) to say an attendee has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Pastors in the Northeast (69%) are also most likely to say someone at their church has lost their job.

As members have lost income, churches are struggling as a result. Half of pastors (52%) say giving has decreased compared to earlier this year. One in 5 (18%) say giving has continued at similar levels, while 2% say it has increased. Around a quarter of pastors (28%) aren’t sure.

Among those who say giving is down at their church, 60% say it has decreased by 25% or more, including 30% who say it has dropped by at least 50%.

This may be due in part to many churches’ hesitancy to adopt online giving. A 2017 LifeWay Research survey found 30% of churches used a website to facilitate online giving, while more than half of Americans said they paid bills online.

“Churchgoers can still mail in a check,” said McConnell, “but this crisis has driven churches to technology. Many are now adding online giving capabilities when they’ve been reluctant to do so in the past.”

Pastoral pressure points

When asked for areas in which they are under the most pressure or ways in which they could use some support, more Protestant pastors say staying connected with their congregation is a concern (30%).

Pastors also say they worry about finances (26%), the technological challenges of the current situation (16%), offering pastoral care from a distance (12%) and members without access to technology to help keep them connected (11%).

Other concerns pastors say are weighing on them include figuring out how to be strategic (9%), the pressure around deciding not to meet (7%), the well-being of their members (7%), needing prayer (6%), being personally exhausted or stressed (6%), the time-consuming nature of the changes (6%), meeting tangible needs while socially distanced (5%), helping with the fears and hurts of others (5%), how to counsel from a distance (5%) and helping to find gospel opportunities (5%).

Few pastors (6%) say they are doing well and don’t have any current pressure points.

“Social distancing is not normal. Humans are relational by nature, and churches are a community of Christ followers,” said McConnell. “The lack of presence pains many pastors and their congregations, but they are utilizing technology like never before to stay connected until they can meet again.”

Aaron Earls is online editor of Facts & Trends and a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Methodology:
The online survey of 400 Protestant pastors was conducted March 30-31, 2020. Invitations were emailed to the LifeWay Research Pastor Panel followed by two reminders. The probability sample of Protestant churches was created by phone recruiting by LifeWay Research using random samples selected from all Protestant churches. Pastors who agree to be contacted by email for future surveys make up this LifeWay Research Pastor Panel.

Each survey was completed by the senior or sole pastor or a minister at the church. Responses were weighted by church attendance, region, ethnicity of pastor and whether the pastor self-identified as evangelical or mainline to more accurately reflect the population. The final sample is 400 usable surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 5.5%. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Download the research

Pages