A new study by LifeWay Research finds the biggest factor in predicting the spiritual health of young adults is whether they read the Bible regularly during their childhood.
The evangelical research firm, based in Nashville, surveyed 2,000 Protestant parents with young adult children and asked them to look back on the growing-up years as well as where their children are spiritually today (ages 18-30). Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said the best predictor of spiritual health – according to the survey – was the regular reading of God's Word.
"If we see a child or a student who gets into that habit, it's much more likely that they're going to call themselves a Christian as a young adult and have other habits of practicing the Christian faith as a young adult," he explains.
Other positive predictors of the child's spiritual health revealed by the study include: regularly spending time in prayer as they were growing up, regularly serving in church, listening to primarily Christian music, and participating in church mission trips and projects.
McConnell concludes that it's important for parents to model these types of behaviors in front of their children. "In the end, parents hope the light will go on and their children will want to follow God on their own," he says. "At any age the Holy Spirit can flip the light switch, and these habits can help kids grow in their faith.”
The study revealed negative predictors as well, such as: not wanting to go to church as a teen, possessing a rebellious attitude, listening primarily to secular/popular music, and attending family church services less and less frequently.
Of the 2,000 parents surveyed, about half revealed that their adult children don't actually practice the Christian faith.