Mothers are the primary influencers on the faith of their children, yet many churches are not serving moms well, and many mothers feel they are not contributing to the world in a meaningful way. These were among the startling findings that Barna and MOPS International revealed on Thursday (May 4).
“Mothers are evangelists, forming the faith of the next generation,” said Savannah Kimberlin, Associate Vice President of Church Engagement at Barna Group, and a mother herself. “Mothers truly are uniquely placed to create a difference and to raise up the leaders of tomorrow and the Christians of tomorrow.” Yet, said Kimberlin, “Mothers are notably underserved by the church, according to Barna data.”
Kelli Smith, Vice President of Marketing and Church Engagement at MOPS International, said that the research is “timely” and “impactful” as it shines light on the “untapped, latent power that exists in moms that is sitting in our churches.”
MOPS International, Barna Find Surprising Insights on Moms
Barna Group, a Christian research organization that studies faith and culture, has partnered with MOPS International, a Christian organization that connects and supports moms, to create the “State of Motherhood” project. The report will be released in the fall, and the two groups revealed a sneak peek of their findings in a webinar Thursday.
Kimberlin presented the data, sharing first that mothers are extremely influential on the faith of their children. When asked who they would be most likely to talk to about questions of faith, 62% of practicing Christian teens said mothers, 40% fathers, 20% a sibling, 6% a grandparent, and 13% a close friend.
When asked who they would be most likely to talk to about the Bible, 61% of practicing Christian teens chose mothers, 42% fathers, 28% a sibling, 6% a grandparent, and 12% a close friend. “Mothers are disciplemakers, showing the next generation how to grow,” said Kimberlin.
Researchers asked practicing Christian teens about different actions that people in their households take to share their faith. Eighty percent of these teens said their moms were the ones who encouraged them to go to church, 75% said their moms were the ones who talked with them about God’s forgiveness, and 53% said their moms were the ones who taught them about the Bible.
Yet the data shows that churches are not spending much effort in investing in mothers. When confronted with the statement, “My church never provides me with materials specifically intended to help support me as a mother,” 47% of mothers agreed. And when pastors were asked if they felt that they were serving moms well, only 21% said yes, while 52% said they could do a better job.
Put another way, Kimberlin said, half of churches in the U.S. are saying they need to improve in serving moms. She then went on to share one of the most surprising findings of the study, which is that “fewer than half of mothers feel content and emotionally safe within their community.”