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Barna Study Focuses on Faith of Pastor’s Children

Are pastors’ kids prodigals? A new Barna Group survey uncovered ambiguous results.
Senior pastors with children at least 15 years old were surveyed, and 40 percent of the 456 respondents noted that their children had significantly doubted their faith.

For context, Barna pointed out that 38 percent of all millennials from a Christian background expressed similar doubts.

The tradition of the pastors surveyed impacted results.

“The pastors most likely to agree their children have faced significant doubt are pastors serving white congregations (43 percent) or mainline churches (51 percent),” Barna reported. “In contrast, the pastors least likely to say this describes their children are pastors serving non-white congregations (25 percent) or non-mainline churches (37 percent).”

Additionally, 33 percent of pastors said their children were no longer involved in church while 7 percent said their children no longer considered themselves Christians.

“The parent-pastors who are most likely to say this is not at all accurate of their kids,” the report added, “are non-mainline pastors (98 percent) or Southern Baptist pastors (97 percent).”

When asked to provide reasons for their children’s doubts, lack of church involvement or rejection of the Christian faith, respondents cited unrealistic social expectations (28 percent) and negative experiences in church (18 percent) as the primary reasons.

Pastoral busyness and preoccupation with work was the third most prevalent response at 17 percent while “the lack of faith modeled consistently at home” was listed on 14 percent of the surveys.

Regarding regrets, Barna found that “while 21 percent of pastors believe they were good parents in terms of supporting and spending time with their children, twice that amount have regrets in this area – 42 percent say they wish they had spent more time with their kids.”

The full report from the Barna Group is available here.