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March 13, 2009Leadership, Research

Should You Invite Your Neighbor's Children?

Here is an article we recently ran in our subscription newsletter, LifeWay Research Insights (lifewayresearch.com/insights). Some good insights on ways to reach our neighbors and their children that any church can do no matter its size or location.

By David Roach

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Although parents may warn their children against going places with strangers, most don't mind letting their kids go with trusted neighbors-- especially when the destination is church.

A study by LifeWay Research found that 76 percent of American parents agree with the statement, "If a neighbor I trusted invited my children to go to church with them, I would let my child go with them." Only 24 percent disagree.

Thirty-four percent strongly agree that they would let their child attend church with a trusted neighbor and 41 percent somewhat agree.

LifeWay Research conducted the study among a representative national sample of 1,210 American parents, allowing several subgroups to be compared.

"Research we conducted for The Parent Adventure shows that 44 percent of American parents indicate they attend religious worship services once a month or more," observed Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. "We were interested to see how many parents were open to their children attending if they didn't have to be the ones to take them to church. The jump is sizeable yet not unexpected. Similar to Romans 1:21 many American parents know God but do not glorify Him. As they express openness to their children knowing God, the opportunity for these children to attend a Bible believing church rests with every believer who does glorify God."

Mothers are more likely than fathers to let their children attend church with neighbors. Seventy-nine percent of females agree that they would send their children to church with a trusted neighbor, but only 72 percent of males agree. Of fathers, 32 percent agree strongly that they would let their child attend church with a neighbor. Thirty-six percent of mothers also agree strongly.

Race is among the factors that make the greatest difference in parents' willingness to send their children to church with neighbors. African Americans (79 percent) agree that they are willing to send their children to church with neighbors more often than, whites (76 percent) and Hispanics (63 percent).

Only 21 percent of Hispanic parents agree strongly more compared to 34 percent of whites and 41 percent of African American parents.

Parents in the Midwest are more open to their children attending church with neighbors than parents in any other region. Eighty-three percent of Midwesterners agree that they would send their children to church with neighbors. Seventy-seven percent of Southerners, 74 percent of Northeasterners and 66 percent of Westerners also agree.

Single parents are more willing to let their kids attend than married. Of married parents, 73 percent agree that they would let their child attend church with a neighbor. Seventy-nine percent of single parents agree.

Age and education seem to have little effect on parent's willingness to send children to church with a trusted neighbor. Parents whose household income is $100,000 and above are less likely to allow their children to go to church with a neighbor. Sixty-eight percent of parents in this highest income group agree they would let their children attend compared with 79 percent of those making less than $25,000, 77 percent of those making $25,000-$49,999, 76 percent of those making $50,000-$74,999 and 75 percent of those making $75,000-$99,999.

McConnell added, "In a culture that struggles to learn the names of their neighbors, the benefit of loving one's neighbor clearly applies to families. With intentional involvement in our neighborhood, we can glorify God in word and deed in regular interactions with our neighbors. As relationships develop, our neighborhood friends will be increasingly comfortable having their children attend church with us. With Spring around the corner, we all need to make plans to get out in our neighborhoods and meet some new friends...How many does your car seat?"

METHODOLOGY

LifeWay Research asked this question as a part of an online survey conducted between October 13-16, 2008 among a national sample of Americans representative of the U.S. population in terms of gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, income and region of the country. The sample size of 1,600 provides 95 percent confidence that the sample error does not exceed +2.5%.

Parent Sample

LifeWay Research conducted the study among a national sample of Americans representative of the U.S. population in terms of gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, income and region of the country. The sample size of 1210 provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed +2.8%.

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