For the past few years I have been sending out "care packages" to some of the college freshmen I know. I also send packages to my young friends in the military or those who have jumped right into the work place. Why?
It's George Barna's fault.
In a 2011 article, Barna, a researching organization for churches, found that "nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15." You can read the article here.
I have been sending out messages on Facebook, requesting addresses, and the response I have received has been interesting. Several of the young adults expressed a feeling of aloneness, or even a spiritual "drifting." Three young ladies expressed a desire to learn more about God so I suggested they form a Bible study together.
The thing that concerns me when high school "kids" go off to school is that they are all dumped into this world and told to swim and I feel, for the most part, these young adults have not been taught how to swim.
The standard operating procedure that many youth groups offer these days is to entertain first and teach later. They feel that if they make youth group fun, that will draw people in and more people will hear the Gospel. That's a good thought but how many of the solid Christian kids are learning more important aspects of their faith - like why we believe things, how to defend our faith when we are confronted out in the world. Youth group should not be about games, if they should even exist at all.
If we look at our youth as a package and the parents and their leaders in the church are the ones doing the wrapping, how do these gifts looked when presented to God? Many are not very well wrapped at all. Not very well educated. Ask a kid to name the Ten Commandments and all will fail. Ask them to name ten beers and you will get a winner every time.
So what do we do? How do we train up our children in the way they should go so when they are old they will not depart from their faith? (Proverbs 22:6) The answers are all in the Bible. That might be a good place to start. We need to:
- Love our children. Let them always see the love of Christ in us - pouring our to our children and to others. In this way they will know what it means to truly love our neighbor.
- Pray with and for our children. Experience is a great teacher. How will our children know how to pray if we don't show them?
- Teach or children. The Bible is full of examples, perfect for teaching the young. Read with them. Ask them questions about their faith and what it means.
- Worship with our children. Children learn by observing and worship occurs more places than just church.. It occurs in our daily lives.
- Serve others with your kids. Volunteer at a local food pantry. Mow someone's yard for them. Rake leaves together.
In the months and years ahead God will be further removed from our government and from our schools. He will even be removed from our pulpits as pastors find themselves restricted in what they can say publicly. These days it is becoming more and more important to train up our children ourselves, in the home. Then perhaps we could better prepare the wrapping on our "presents" before we release them into the world . . . before we have to answer to God for things left un-done.
Encourage your children today, as long as it is called today. Instruct them in the ways of The Lord. Strive to hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." If we focus our own lives on Christ in everything we say and do, the teaching will just happen. Let's begin today to love, pray, teach, worship and serve . . . with every breath we breathe.
"6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." - Proverbs 22:6
Train Up A Child - Steve Green