The amount of young people who leave the church in the west is staggering. Three of every four young people leave the church either during high school or in their early years of college. Many parents can testify to this truth. The fact is that the church just is not retaining its’ young people. Young people find things in the world that are more compelling. Of course this is something that parents just do not know how to deal with, and even struggle to maintain meaningful relationships with their children when they do not have meaningful relationships with God. In an attempt to help with this and take preventative measures, I would like to list several reasons your kids may leave the church.
The most obvious reason is that they have not been born again. They have not been made a new creature by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8, 2 Corinthians 5:17). If they had, they would not have fallen away but would have been guided by the Spirit and kept on the narrow way (Hebrews 12:8-9). We must strip ourselves of the declaration that people are born again. We have no authority to do that. We have the authority to tell people how to be born again, but only God can tell somebody that they are born again (Romans 8:16). We need to recognize that the reason they fell away essentially comes down to the truth that they never knew God (Matthew 7:21-23).
Thus they also never built on a proper foundation(Matthew 7:24-27). Jesus tells us the parable of the man who built his house on the sand, and when the winds and the floods came, his foundation was shaken. But the house of the man who built his house on the rock stood fast. The child who builds his foundation on his parents’ faith, or on religion, will fall apart when the winds and floods come. But the child who builds his foundation of the word of God, and on Christ, will stand firmly. So the following several reasons your kids may leave the church all presuppose that they were not born again and did not build their foundation on the rock.
Most commonly, they endure some sort of tragedy in life. Every Christian acknowledges that there is evil in the world. They are willing to say that they just trust in God, that the evil is not God’s fault but mans, and so forth. But when the evil becomes personal, when they have a tragedy, the fact that they do not trust in God becomes apparent. They need to truly put all of their trust in God. They need to realize that their relationship with God does not depend upon circumstances.
But then many will wonder if they even have a relationship with God. They have intellectual doubts. They do not know why Christianity is true. They do not know why it is true because nobody ever told them. They are simply told that they need to have blind faith (an idea foreign and contrary to the word of God). So they have all of these difficult questions, and nobody to answer these questions. They wonder who created God, if the Bible is really true, if Jesus really rose again, if miracles could really occur, and so forth. They have these intellectual doubts and nobody to answer them.
Of course, these doubts are reinforced by the culture. The culture reinforces the doubts that children have. Children are surrounded by nonsense about relativism, post-modernism, and Christians with no reasonable answers. Atheists appear to be the intelligencia. Christians appear as stupid, ignorant people with no answers. That is why this culture needs apologetics. We need to be able to give good answers to difficult questions. In the same way that atheists are New Atheists (so they style themselves), we need to be New Christians. That does not mean that we change our faith in any way. But it means that we give good answers, changing the caricature of unreasonable, stubborn, stupid. We need to be able to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15).
But just the same can be said of their understanding of doctrine. Your children may be inhaled by doctrinal misunderstandings promoted by the culture. They may say things like, “God sacrificed himself to himself to save you from himself.” These over-simplifications and misunderstandings are precisely what leads people away from God. Therefore you need not only to tell your church why they believe, but also what they believe. Children need doctrine, lest they fall away. They need to understand the nature of God, the sin of man in light of God’s holiness, and why Christ needed to die.
If they have these, they will be less vulnerable to the professors who steer students away from Christ. Many secular universities have anti-Christian professors who mount attacks against Christianity in all of their classes and attempt to steal the faith of their students. They have had a great deal of success. They are able to guide students who may just be passive and indifferent toward religion, into atheism. They are able to guide those who seem like passionate Christians, into atheism. Students see their professors as authority figures. If they say something about the historical Jesus, the children are just taken in by it.
Parents do not realize how severe this issue is. Just do a google search of “my child is an atheist.” You will discover that parents really are losing their children to atheism or just secularism. The issues that I raise are real.
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