The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia. It has been provided as part of a partnership with AllOnGeorgia and Creation Ministries International.
The average Christian family prays at the dinner table. They go to church together and the children are in Sunday school. Maybe they read Bible stories at bedtime and pray together when the children are tucked in. The children go to Christian camps each year, attend the youth group each week, and the family even attends the mid-week service at church. This is an active Christian family.
Whose youth are leaving the church?
You have likely heard the statistics, such as 2/3 of children raised in Christian homes are leaving the church1 and other ‘studies’ claiming a rate of exodus as high as 88%2. Regardless of the accuracy of these statistics, few Christians would deny the alarming departure rate they have witnessed not only in their churches, but in their own families. Yet the ‘active’ Christian families described above are exactly the ones that are dealing with the heart-wrenching loss of their young adult children departing the faith. And most times the parents are oblivious as to why this has happened.
So, here’s the rub. Are these statistics just about “somebody else’s” children? If this portrait reflects reality across the wider church, what percentage would be acceptable to you and your family? Would even 25% be acceptable?
When CMI speakers are on the road, it is common after the presentation for a Mom or Dad to approach us with a painful expression and tell us about how one, or more, of their children are part of the youth exodus statistics mentioned in our talks. It’s quite sobering to discuss. Even though this abandonment of faith comes as a surprise to many parents, it’s actually easier to understand when you consider what happens even before they leave the nest.
Many parents might think that college or other influences their children encounter when they leave home are the main culprits in this scenario. However, the process of this waning faith starts long before that, often times undetected by parents. Barna research says 2 out of 3 have already made their minds up before they leave home. And one of the major reasons is that all we ever hear is the evolutionary story of billions of years of deep time being presented as an accepted and irrefutable ‘fact’ of science. Whether TV programs, textbooks, magazines, school, books, documentaries, even Saturday morning cartoons, our children are saturated with a story that directly opposes the “Bible stories” they hear in church. The take home message the children actually hear is “The Bible is not true!” And the solution can’t merely be more “Bible stories”, church time, camps and youth groups to somehow drown out that worldly challenge. You see, our children are smart. If the science teacher presents the evolutionary story as the real history of the world supported by ‘science’, what would you reasonably expect if they are not adequately presented with the alternative explanation that better accounts for the facts and science supporting the Bible’s historical record? Unfortunately, this very important aspect in defending our faith is absent from the teaching presented in most churches and thus most homes.
So what can a parent do? We get constant reports that when a person is equipped with Creation magazine, our foundational resources and a consistent diet of our Bible-affirming resources, not only is their faith built up, but they become confident with a defense against the onslaught of evolutionary ideas. However, it might surprise you to learn that the best course of action is not for a parent to provide their children these resources. You see, while our children live under our roof, parents are the biggest influences in their lives. When parents commit to equip, even saturate themselves with those defenses that stand up against that ever-present challenge, then day by day they are able to pepper their children’s lives with consistent truth. As parents handle the truth and their children’s questions consistently, they will be able to discern how evolution is a counterfeit substitution of the truth.
The authority of the Bible trumps evolution
Yes, these statistics show how vitally important and powerful it is that we address this issue head on within our families. However, as you can see, this is not a matter of accumulating facts and evidence. Despite the consistent droning message of being told that ‘science’ has proven the Bible is wrong, it truly boils down to whether that authority trumps our faith, or if our ultimate authority comes from the Word of God.
So pray, go to church, study the Bible with your family, but today, commit to equip yourself and your family with the truth that will stand the challenges that we all face.
Scott served in ministry for over 25 years as a youth pastor, teacher, speaker, and key leader in a church plant. In a volunteer capacity, Scott was also CMI’s West Coast speaker and representative. Scott and his wife Lisa have 4 adult children, and in October 2010, they moved to Atlanta so Scott could work full-time with CMI–US. Learn more about him here.