Effects of Divorce on Kids Involvement in Church

churchOne of the regular emails I receive is HomeWord’s Culture Brief. It is designed to help parents and ministry leaders stay current with youth culture.

In the January 18, 2013 edition they referenced an article from the Chicago-Tribune that highlights research that indicates that kids raised in happy, intact marriages are twice as likely to worship later in life than children whose parents divorce amicably.

I think this speaks to different groups – both the church and to parents. The church continues to struggle to address the issue of students that grow up in the church that don’t return once they hit adulthood.

It speaks to parents as yet another negative effect of divorce. I thought it was interesting that the article used the word “amicable” to describe certain divorces. In my experience, I don’t know if you can really put the words “amicable” and “divorce” together, unless it is simply to make the adults in the dissolving relationship feel better about what is taking place.

I certainly don’t have more answers than anyone else; just found this to be an interesting insight into the impact divorce has on the kids involved. While God is certainly able to work in the lives of divorced parents and kids from divorced homes, I think this research sounds another warning bell for today’s families.

Here is that portion of the article featured in the HomeWord email:

Seeking to highlight a phenomenon that has become so common that it’s often overlooked by clergy, a new analysis of data about children of divorce reveals that kids raised in happy, intact marriages are twice as likely to worship later in life than children whose parents divorce amicably. Researchers say they hope the unprecedented project will awaken pastors to a common oversight contributing to the decline in mainline Christian denominations and religious affiliation in general. “Children of divorce are on the leading edge of the well-documented spiritual-but-not-religious movement,” said Elizabeth Marquardt, the project’s lead author. “These are potential leaders. As we grapple with more and more people growing up without a married mom and dad, the church can make more sense of that.

“No Religion” Third Largest Religious Group

churchI saw a link to this article come across Twitter today. It is posted on the Huff Post Religion page.

The article shares that people who claim no religious affiliation make up the third largest segment of the world’s population. Christianity is listed first, followed by Muslims.

There are also some interesting stats about belief in God or a Higher Power. My initial thought is that it points to that fact that people, especially in the US, consider themselves spiritual, but not necessarily connected with a church or religious group.

Interesting article and something for the church today to think about.

People with no religious affiliation make up the third-largest global group in a new study of the size of the world’s faiths, placing after Christians and Muslims and just before Hindus.

The study, based on extensive data for the year 2010, also showed Islam and Hinduism are the faiths mostly likely to expand in the future while Jews have the weakest growth prospects.

It showed Christianity is the most evenly spread religion, present in all regions of the world, while Hinduism is the least global with 94 percent of its population in one country, India.

Overall, 84 percent of the world’s inhabitants, which it estimated at 6.9 billion, identify with a religion, according to the study entitled “The Global Religious Landscape” issued by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Tuesday.

The “unaffiliated” category covers all those who profess no religion, from atheists and agnostics to people with spiritual beliefs but no link to any established faith.

“Many of the religiously unaffiliated do hold religious or spiritual beliefs,” the study stressed.

“Belief in God or a higher power is shared by 7 percent of unaffiliated Chinese adults, 30 percent of unaffiliated French adults and 68 percent of unaffiliated U.S. adults,” it said.

Why the Church is Important

I grew up in the church and have served in the local church since my junior year in college, so it may seem overly obvious that I think the church is important.  There is an interesting “rub” when you are a part of the church as a member and also a part of the church as “paid staff.”  While you are a member, it’s also your job to be there, but that’s perhaps another discussion. Yesterday’s worship experience reminded my why the church is important.

The very quick back story is that a couple of weeks ago my wife and I took vacation and had a Sunday off. We enjoyed attending another church in our area and simply being participants in the service rather than leading.  As with everyone else I’m sure, the first week back from vacation is the “re-entry period.”  Catching up on emails and phone calls, getting back into groove of the work schedule and moving out of vacation mode.  So, this Sunday was my first Sunday back.  It was a great reminder why the church is important.

As we sang together, I was struck by the fact that I was worshiping with people I know – my church family and friends.  I know some of the challenges we have faced and how God has been faithful to us.  Even though we are broken people and dinged up a little (or a lot) by our life experiences, we stand together as His church and worship.  It’s not because of our goodness, but His grace.  Similar to what I wrote a couple of months back, I was struck again by the fact the God accepts us and wants us to worship Him.

During the message, the scripture was not just a challenge to individual followers, but to the church as a whole. While each of us is responsible for our personal development and growth, there is also the reality that we are in this together and God calls the church as a body to be just that – His body.  One person can’t be the church on his/her own.  We are in it together.

There are some who criticize the church and we do have our flaws, but yesterday was a good reminder to me that the church really is important.  I need the time together with my church family to worship, study and be reminded of what we are called to do and be.