Parents are role models for faith

Parents remain the most valuable role models of faith

Mothers and fathers were listed as the most important role models in faith, according to our research results in the 2016 NCLS. 

Some 58% of church attenders aged 15 to 29 nominated their mother, and 46% nominated their father as the person who showed them what faith was about. Given the demands on parents in work, family and household duties, the question arises, how can churches contribute to quality time for families and support parents in their roles in the faith formation of the next generation of their family?

Mum and Dad important in faith, particularly for young people

Amongst all church attenders, mothers were listed as the most important role model in faith by nearly six in ten (59%) attenders, and fathers by four in ten (40%) attenders. Amongst younger attenders, the importance of parents was also evident with mothers named by 58% of young people aged 15 to 29, followed by fathers, listed by 46% of young attenders.

Faith formation in the next generation

Our survey results for young churchgoers aged 15 to 29, show the strong importance of parents in 'being the person to show me what faith is about'. 2016 National Church Life Survey findings show that mothers and fathers, are central to the faith development of many youth and young adults. Thus, local churches and parishes are wise to also acknowledge the important place parents hold in the faith formation of the next generation of their family.

Youth group leaders and friends also influential

Teenage and young adult church attenders aged 15-29, were more likely to list their youth group leader (23%) and friends (24%) as the most important person to show them what faith is about, than other age groupings. Such data affirms the existence of youth friendly worship services, young adult activities and youth involvement in leadership roles, that some churches report intentionally providing as a way to engage their young people in faith.

Worship services for multiple generations

Census data reveals changing family structures within Australian society. As families form and reform, whatever the shape of the family unit, churches are encouraged to consider ways they can actively support parents in their roles. Results from the 2016 NCLS reveal that churches are trialling ways of engaging multiple generations in worship. Changing worship service styles described as family-friendly, youth-friendly, inter-generational, participatory, flexible and energetic are being facilitated by churches, along with use of modern technology and multi media.

More information on such innovations in church life to include younger generations can be found in our article Churches are innovating to include multiple generations.

Kathy Jacka, Miriam Pepper, Nicole Ward, Ruth Powell, Sam Sterland
Data Sources:

Gan, C., & Pepper, M. (2018). Church attenders’ role models for their faith. NCLS Research Fact Sheet 18003. Sydney: NCLS Research.

Powell, R. Sterland, S. Pepper, M. and Hancock, N. (2016). 2016 NCLS Operations Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research.

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