Nobody knows what is going to happen to their kids. We don’t know how they will perform in the world. We don’t know who they will marry, what friends they will choose, or what kind of career they will have. We don’t know if they will always be healthy and happy and safe like we want them to be. And so we raise them as best we can and give them to the Lord.
Christian parents who currently have children at home have one thing in particular that they are worried about. They are concerned that their children might leave the church. I have seen several studies over the years that have provided statistics concerning the faithfulness of children who leave home. They usually agree that half of the kids who are raised in the church leave the church after the age of 18. The studies also find that marrying a Christian is essential to their faithfulness to God and to the marriage – although every situation is individual, and there are no guarantees. Yes, you could literally do everything correctly and your child might still leave the church.
But I think there is a deeper reason why kids who are raised in the church tend to leave the faith. It is because we take them to worship without every converting them to Christ – and that is because many of us have never been fully converted ourselves! I have been in the church all of my life and I have seen the culture change. I have seen the generational divide develop between baby-boomers, gen-Xers, and millennials. I have seen the fall-out that comes from “inherited faith.” I have seen the different paths young people have followed that have led them away from the Lord. But I believe the biggest problem is really a matter of the heart.
Why is it that our children grow up thinking worship is optional? Why is it that they bend to the beliefs of their denominational friends? Why is it that they are more self-aware and less others-aware when it comes to what they see as the purpose of their Christianity? Why is it that they are more involved in college and career and sports and entertainment and travel and everything else than they are the church?
The reason is that for too many Sundays we have merely brought them. We have falsely convinced ourselves that just by exposing them to Christ somehow all of the principals they need to know that will guide them to a life fully dedicated to the Lord will just happen to be there and they will magically latch on.
We volunteer to coach their ball teams, do scouts with them, and are more than willing to commit with them to every commercial and community activity that is available. But it was always someone else who taught their Bible class. It was always some other family that hosted the teen devotional. It was always the youth minister or the preacher that they talked to about spiritual matters. It was always the secular event that took precedence over the spiritual event and therefore they have learned what is really important to us. We did not teach them to love Jesus. We did not get Christ and the church so deeply into them that there was no possible way that those things would ever get out of them.
The real reason MANY, but not ALL of our children might leave the faith is because of US! You can’t just bring them to church and hope for the best. God has held us accountable to so much more as parents! If God isn’t in your home every single day, then eventually for your kids He is not going to be there at all.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-9 JEREMIAH TATUM