Home / News / Church & Ministry / Decline in church attendance tied to lack of healthy marriages, fathers in home
decline church
A father and child. Photo: Barbara Murdter. Creative Commons.

Decline in church attendance tied to lack of healthy marriages, fathers in home

The decline in healthy marriages and the role of fathers is leading directly to fewer people in church, according to a new survey by Communio, a nonprofit organization.

The survey found that 80 percent of church attendees grew up in a home where their mother and father stayed married, a trend that remained true regardless of age. In addition, 87 percent of all 25- to 29-year-old never-married men in church had parents who remained married.

“So what this means is folks in church on Sunday are categorically more likely to have grown up with a resident dad in the home than someone who is not in church on Sunday,” said J.P. De Gance, CEO of the group which equips churches to strengthen the marriage and relationship health of its members.

He said the findings show that religious non-affiliation began to increase between 1986 and 1991 and then rapidly grew in the mid-90s. This result makes sense as the children who grew up in homes where their parents didn’t remain married became adults.

One of the study’s most notable findings, he said, is that adults who reported a close relationship with their fathers were more likely to report having the same faith as their parents by 25 percentage points. On the other hand, the study found that a closer relationship with their mother did not appear to have a statistical effect on whether an adult had the same faith as their parents.

The survey also found that half of all adults in the United States are experiencing loneliness, while 22 percent of churchgoers are considered lonely. In addition, the survey noted that single churchgoers are more than three times more likely to be considered lonely compared to their married counterparts (15 percent).

The survey also addressed cohabitation, finding that the lifestyle is rare among regular church attendees; however, the study cited research that indicates a cohabitating man in his 30s (77 percent) is more likely to report that he is struggling in his relationship than a married man in the same age group. A cohabitating man in church was 53 percent more likely to report that he was struggling in his relationship compared to a married man.

For cohabitating women, 73 percent were more likely to report struggling in their relationship compared to a married woman in church. As for women attending church while cohabitating, they were 87 percent more likely to report that they were struggling in their relationship than a cohabitating man in church.

“Once someone starts to understand that because that’s basically the choice, then there can be a moment where you can actually inform them of the positive reasons why you would pursue marriage,” De Gance said. “If we can’t help Christians form the kind of relationships that lead to lifelong marriages, if your concerns with the political hot buttons around this prevent you from doing this, you should probably get out of ministry.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

Photo: This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Leave a Reply