Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why do adults become Christians?

Here's a very interesting article about the adult conversion process.

In it the author, Mike Fleischmann, a pastor from Southern California, sets out to learn how many Christians become so in adulthood (rather than childhood), and what is the process they take.

He speaks of the 85/18 rule which is an axiom that 85% of Christians become so before age 18. He concludes that:

"I must admit that the "85/18 Rule" was partially confirmed in my research. In fact 84.5 percent of evangelicals do accept Christ before that age. However, the statistic only holds true if they were raised in a home where both parents were Christians with either a high or moderate level of spiritual activity. If, however, they were raised without that benefit, the percentage drops by two-thirds. The rest of the unchurched make their faith decisions throughout the course of adulthood and even into retirement."

He also has some interesting observations about the conversion process for adults.

Thanks Ed!


David Kueker said...

Any correlation with the famous Stark-Lofland sociological research on converstions?

Quoting Laurence R. Iannaccone, The Market for Martyrs:

Proselytizing bore fruit only when it followed or coincided with the formation of strong social attachments, typically family ties or close personal friendships. Successful conversion was not so much about selling beliefs as it was about building ties, thereby lowering the social costs and raising the social benefits associated with changing one’s religious orientation. The converse was also true. Recruitment failure was all but assured if a person maintained strong attachments to a network of non-members. Many people spent time with the Moonies and expressed considerable interest in their doctrines but never joined. In nearly every case, these people had strong on-going attachments to non-members who disapproved of the group. By contrast, those who joined were often newcomers to San Francisco and thus separated from their family and friends. In short, social attachments lie at the heart of conversion, and conversion tends to proceed along social networks. This discovery has been replicated in scores of subsequent studies all over the world.

Tony said...

You may be interested in a very good research study 'How adults become Christians' you can find via IE Day's page of research studies.

He's the UK Director of what used to be called Pocket Testament League



Edward T. Babinski said...

"Become Christians" means what? Catholics believe it happens at baptism. Evangelicals however, only count it when a kid makes a conscious "commitment" to Jesus at some unspecified age usually in their teens, but most of those kids had already been raised as Christians, already believed it their whole lives via being raised as Christians.

Edward T. Babinski said...

If 85% of converts to Evangelicalism do so in their teens, then Evangelicalism is thriving because a whole lot of kids commit themselves to a belief system at an age when their education levels are pre-college, their knowledge of religion, let alone comparative religion practically nil, and their psychological urges and hormonal levels unsettled.