In a moment, I am going to list five key subjects that the Church (and parents) must address forcefully and often if we want our kids to stay in church. Four of the five areas are subjects that the Church has largely remained silent on in the last several decades.
It’s time to face the ugly reality that the Churches retention rate of young adults is rapidly dwindling. The stories of tragedy are countless and remarkably similar. The scenario usually goes something like this; Jamie graduates from high school where humanism, atheism, secularism, and every other “ism” you can imagine has been crammed into her head for the last decade or more. But until recently, Jamie always went home to a mom and dad who worked hard to combat the onslaught of worldly concepts and temptations infiltrating her mind. But when Jamie goes to college she faces the same battles that she fought in high school, only now they are even more intensified.
One key element changes to Jamie’s disadvantage; she no longer goes home to the stability of her parents. Jamie has more freedom, more independence, more responsibility, more pressure, more temptations, more opportunity for failure, and less support.
Sadly, many times the Jamie’s in our churches simply are not equipped to withstand the philosophical, moral, spiritual, and psychological battles that blindside them fresh out of high school. Somehow, somewhere before Jamie reaches these critical years she must develop her own intimate, personal relationship with God if she is going to withstand the cultural onslaught that young adulthood brings.
So what is the Churches role in all of this? I believe it is significant. In fact, it is paramount. Outside of parents, nothing can impact and shape the hearts of students like the properly functioning body of Christ. It is vitally important that the Church (especially the leadership) is aware and concerned about the challenges facing their young adults.
Backsliding is never instantaneous, but rather a slow, hard, often silent development. It is an internal process that usually doesn’t manifest itself outwardly until it has almost completely germinated. That’s why Scripture admonishes us to, “Train up a child in the way that he should go… (Proverbs 22:6).” Nothing can replace the shaping done during an individual’s formative years (arguably adolescence and young teens). When Jamie goes to college she will subconsciously draw from behaviors and patterns learned long ago. Therefore, for the Church to retain its young adults it must maintain thriving child, adolescent, and pre-teen ministries. Take advantage of formative years and equip them for a lifetime of success. Spiritual development is a lifelong process that best begins at the youngest age possible.
Ok. So this is a longer article than I usually post (modern day attention spans aren’t what they used to be), but with all of the above in mind, I have included some areas that the Church must address exhaustively if we are going to keep our children in the apostolic faith.
- Science and the theory of evolution in particular. We should not be anti-science, however, we should be anti-scientific theories that have an anti-God agenda.
- Morality, God’s plan for human sexuality, and the family. Hollywood, public schools, the internet, peers, and every other facet of culture talks about these issues night and day. If the Church is going to remain relevant it cannot stay silent or fearful of these subjects.
- The Bible and why it can be trusted as the literal Word of God. It’s no secret that the Bible has been under attack in one way or another since its inception. They may not be burning Bible’s in the streets but liberal academia has been doing their best to undermine it for centuries. They don’t care if you read it as long as you don’t trust it for absolutes.
- Popular culture, holiness, and what it means to live righteously. Of course, just because something is popular doesn’t make it evil. However, just because it’s popular doesn’t make it acceptable either. The Church must stand on the front lines of the culture wars and promote godliness in a clear, loving, well thought out way.
- Relationship with Jesus. None of the above will matter without a close, experiential, relationship with Jesus. Relationship will sustain a heart even when storms rage all around.