Barna Study Finds Christians Whose Faith Wasn’t ‘Passed Down’ to Them Have Stronger Theological Convictions

Christians who grew up in homes where Christianity was incorrectly modeled and those who didn’t have their faith formed by relatives in their home are more likely to have stronger “theological convictions” than Christians who say their faith was “passed down” to them, new research has found.

On Tuesday, the evangelical polling firm The Barna Group released the results of a study conducted in partnership with the Lutheran Hour Ministries that aims to inform Christian families about what it means to live in a “spiritually vibrant” household.

Titled Households of Faith, the new report is based on an extensive survey conducted last April of as many as 2,400 practicing Christian adults and teens in the United States. The term ‘practicing Christian’ is defined as people who attend church at least once per month, call themselves Christian and say their faith is very important in their life.

While Barna is known for researching trends within churches and congregations, the new study is different in the sense that it focuses on the conversations, relationships and rituals occurring inside the home.

“This is a cool study because you might think about who influenced you in terms of your spiritual development, in terms of your faith,” Barna President David Kinnaman said during a launch event for the study held at Concordia Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas.

“This project is one of the first of its kind that I know of. And actually, I have been at Barna now for almost 25 years. The company is 35 years old and we have done a lot of research in that time.”

The survey asked the question: “Would you say you are a Christian as a result of a person you grew up with in your household?”

Of the 1,116 practicing Christian adults who responded to that question, 59 percent said that “someone passed their faith down to me.”

Meanwhile, 23 percent said they are a Christian “despite the sort of Christianity I saw in my household growing up,” and 15 percent said they are Christians as an adult not because of a person in their childhood household.

“What is interesting is that those who answered the second two options … actually showed stronger theological convictions than those who did not,” Kinnaman said during his presentation.  “It was interesting because having a passed-down faith is almost as though they hadn’t really evaluated some of the orthodoxy, some of the beliefs.”

“So, those who have struggled with their faith actually had a richer orthodoxy,” he continued. “At the same time, those who had a passed-down faith — part of that 59 percent — were more likely to prioritize traditions.”

Although those with a passed-down faith were less likely to have stronger theological convictions, Barna found that they did have more emotional connections to Christianity and had a warmer emotional climate within their home than other respondents.

“There was this interesting balance,” Kinnaman said. “There were some positives and negatives on each side of the ledger and there are some important implications for us.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith