Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

White familySo many parents feel tremendous pain at having children who leave their Christian faith and do not go to church. According to studies by both Barna Group and USA Today, the staggering numbers are almost 75% of Christian young people. The reasons for this defection are many–competing cultural voices, biblical illiteracy, poor parent role models, hypocrisy in the church, youth groups that entertained instead of equipped, etc.

Given our current state, what can we as parents do to curb this growing tide? Here are a few helps:

1) We are responsible to raise and train our children in the knowledge of Christ. This means we have to instruct, read the Word and teach our Christian world view. This is the foundation–it needs to be laid by the parents. Hopefully, the church comes along side and supports continued Christian education.

2) As parents, be faithful and active in church. Studies show that when both parents are active and involved in church, the chances increase that children will do the same later in life. It’s not a guarantee, but does improve the likelihood.

3) Be emotionally involved with your children. When adult children feel connected to their parents and share a strong emotional bond, it makes a difference, especially when they struggle to make faith their own. If the relationship with parents feels safe and open, questioning can happen and application of the faith can be pursued.

4) Model authentic Christian love. Preaching one thing and doing another doesn’t work and only builds cynicism and hypocrisy. Live an authentic life–admitting your mistakes, asking for forgiveness, being humble and aware of your own desperate need for Christ. Make prayer and Bible reading a regular part of your day. Pray with and for your children.

5) Be relevant and know their world. Talk about cultural issues so they can critically think about how to apply God’s Word to the world in which they live.  The culture changes, God doesn’t. Help them think through how to respond to issues counterculture to the Christian faith–prepare and arm them to think and problem-solve using the Word of God.

6) Help them understand that tolerance doesn’t mean everyone’s ideas have equal value. Tolerance means you differ with someone and will be civil and respectful in your dissent. It doesn’t mean silencing your voice to political correctness or operating in fear of opposition. We have to stand for Christ and won’t always be liked. The cross offends, even when people do not. Help them tolerate this and defend their faith in a growingly post Christian culture.

7) Recognize the individual will of your child. Even when you teach and equip, your child has a will of his/her own. They can get distracted, pulled away from God by cultural thinking and temptation if they don’t engage in spiritual disciplines that keep their relationship with Christ strong. They are ultimately responsible before God even when they make bad choices. As a parent, this is painful. Stay connected, help them work through pain and hurt and be there to pick up the pieces.

7) Pray and don’t give up. If you have planted the seeds, they are still there. Continue to pray that God uses someone or something to bring them back to Him. Remember our fight is against principalities and powers so be warrior in prayer. Nothing is impossible for God.

 

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