Yesterday’s post dealt with the alarming manner in which scores of young people are skeptical of Christianity. I read another survey a while back that purported that 80% of young people quit attending church after graduating high school. In this post I’d like to suggest some possible reasons for this condition as it exists in America today. These are in no particular order and may sting a little bit…
Parental Misunderstanding Of Salvation. Truth is, 90% of people in the church think that walking an aisle… praying a prayer… and getting wet while calling it baptism saves people. It doesn’t!! Still, parents understandably want their children to be saved so bad that they jump on any… and I do mean ANY… interest their children have in being saved. As a result parents push for their kids to “ask Jesus into their heart” and “pray the prayer for salvation” (This includes pastors who are unwilling to lovingly say the time isn’t right.). The result is a host of kids who grow up thinking they are saved when in reality they aren’t. Thus when they leave home there is no desire in them, because they’re not saved, to follow Christ.
Parental Unwillingness To Model Christ Outside Church. Two to three hours of taking kids to church is not faithfully discipling them to follow Christ. Kids watch their parents and listen to them 6 1/2 days outside church. It is what they learn at home that leaves the most indelible mark. They listen to how their parents talk about the ministers… how they talk about other Christians… they watch the TV programs their parents watch (Desperate Housewives… oops… that’s preaching)… they learn from how their parents act when not at church… they learn from their parents own business practices. In short, kids recognize hypocrisy early and learn it from their parents. Add this to a false conversion and you have a recipe for leaving the church. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 works to build and hinder faith…
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
As a result of the contradiction which children observe, they choose to leave the faith and the church when they have an opportunity.
Unhealthy, Impotent Church Situations. This takes on several forms. 1) Too many youth ministers/ministries are more interested in numbers and events than discipling the young people in the Orthodox Christian Faith and doctrine. 2) Pastor/Preachers do not deliver engaging, interesting, dynamic messages but are more content with stories and weak preaching. 3) The politics that takes place at church which leads to disharmony and disunity contradicts John 13:35, and young people are disillusioned. 4) According to young people I’ve pastored and talked with… many youth who do attend church do anything but live the Christian life Monday to Saturday, but are considered leaders in their Youth Group. 5) The church does not address situations where they are in their life. Not only that, the way church is done seems to them to be irrelevant. 95% of people who attend church want to encounter God… hear from Him… and find help for their life situations. When politics is a big part of a young person’s church experience, they leave the church the first chance they get.
This is not an exhaustive list of possibilities, but they are the ones that I’ve noticed over the years. Some parents who finish reading this may think I’m a little hard on them, but I’m just trying to wave a flag so that we all can be faithful in discipling our young people. I hold ministers and church leaders just as responsible for the spiritual condition of our young people.
Tomorrow, God willing, I’ll suggest a few things to possibly address these concerns.
Pastor Ron: I would like to include there are MANY college professors who by their lifestyle and teachings cause students to turn away from church. Also, there are many subjects taught on the college level that students study more than the WORD. Two in particular is Art History/English Literature.
I agree Judy. I almost left the faith when I attended college. The professor of the religion class was a Southern Baptist minister… and caused me to doubt Christ more than anyone prior to or since that class. Only because of God’s grace and already having my beliefs affirmed by my parents did I weather that storm. The problem is that young people go to college and DO NOT have a strong faith (Because of what I mentioned in my post) and then when they are tested, they fall away.
Thank you for your insight!
Great posts last few days. I truly believe this is true! But I am so thankful for the ministries we have in place for high and college, Student Venture, Crusade & Young Life. The kids running those (especially high school are so dedicated and I’m sure could testify a lot more to the posts. Thank you again for bringing it out!!!