Will Your Child Leave Christianity?
A Strategy to Solidify Their Faith
By Brace E. Barber
July 19, 2016
Christian Apologetics Speaker
The first Thanksgiving back home after leaving for college is really a special time. It rarely makes the front pages of life events, but when a young adult heads away from home to college, it is often the first time back home after being away. Mine was really a once-in-a-lifetime event. I left El Cajon, California outside of San Diego, on my way to the complete opposite corner of America at West Point, New York. As it happened, the Army-Navy Game was being played in Pasadena, California that year. It was the first and last time that the game was played there, and it required a huge movement of troops all the way across the country. For me, it meant that the Army was going to deliver me home for Thanksgiving.
I’m Not a Christian Anymore
Though most coming-home-for-Thanksgiving trips are less involved, they are still a wonderful time to be together. The family gets a chance to spend time with their child learning about their experiences and plans for the future. Parents want to know who their child is becoming on their own. It may not be during Thanksgiving, but it is during this separation process that kids reveal to their parents that they are no longer Christians. Sixty-five to 75% of kids raised in Christian homes leave the faith when they leave home. If you have three kids, pick the two that you are willing to give up for eternity. When your child tells you that they are no longer a Christian, it’s too late. The 18 years you had with them is over. The years that they spent in Sunday school are gone. You will never again have that level of involvement and authority to speak into their lives.
I Haven’t Been a Christian for a Long Time
Research tells us that most who leave are already mentally gone sometime in high school. What that means is that if you have a child in high school they have probably already closed their mind to Christianity, but are just waiting until they are out from underneath your roof before they say something. If you have a middle-schooler, they are headed that way too. Right when your newly independent, mature, intellectual child informs you that they are no longer a Christian it is not the most strategic time to begin pleading with them and pulling out all the stops to save them. Is it hopeless? No. However, on Monday when they drive back to school, they are under the influence of the world where you hold no credibility. Your influence over them will diminish as they become ‘smarter’ and you hold onto your ‘illogical’ faith. Getting those kids back to the faith is a different issue than what we are dealing with in youth groups.
The Good News
The good news is that if they are still in your home, you have time. If you use that time dealing with their skepticisms head on, you will eliminate the reasons that they were using to justify leaving the faith. The promise of this approach is that you will strengthen your child’s faith in God and create a closer relationship with each other. The issue of Salvation is so important that it is not something to put off until tomorrow. The challenge for parents has always been how to ensure your child is saved and that you will eventually spend eternity with them. There is no exact answer for success because every person’s path to a decision for Christ is different and they make that decision based on an incredible number of circumstances.
Here’s what we do know from the research contained in the book, The Last Christian Generation by Josh McDowell and David H. Bellis:
- 63% of teenaged Christians don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of the one true God.
- 51% don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead.
- 68% don’t believe that the Holy Spirit is a real entity.
- Only 33% of churched youth have said that the church will play a part in their lives when they leave home.
Now We Can Solve the Problem
At a very high level, if we realize that we need to address our kids’ skepticism head on, then this list is a great place to start. Can you write down three pieces of evidence for each of the problems above? If not it’s time to start studying. You are running out of time! Furthermore, you have to realize that TELLING these kids that Jesus is the Son of the one true God, that he rose again and that the Holy Spirit is real is NOT going to work. How many times have you and the church already told them these things? The question you need to answer with them is, “Why should I believe that Jesus rose from dead?” If the thoughts you are having right now revolve around the impossibility of that task, then take a breath and listen. The evidence for Jesus Resurrection is incredibly strong and multi-faceted. When you take the time to look at it, you will be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence can’t replace faith, but when you are satisfied that Jesus rose from the dead just as the Scriptures say, how much more confident are you in your faith. Now think about your kids.
It’s time to get excited because the chance of your child leaving the faith has just dropped dramatically. However, you need to understand that the area of study you are going into, Christian Apologetics, is not widely practiced by most churches. Your church will certainly know about apologetics and they can recommend some books and maybe even a member who likes apologetics, but for the most part, it is an afterthought. Apologetics have mostly been an individual pursuit and sometimes the subject of a bible study. Apologetics, in common Christian terms, is simply the defense of the faith. It is an area of study that is incredibly powerful in improving the chances that your child will gain a faith of their own. It is not a cure-all, but it can help a lot.
The reason that churches shy away from apologetics is because it is predominantly academic and appeals to so few people. I may be one of three people at my church who would be thrilled to hear a sermon on the scientific evidence supporting the creation of the Universe. Everyone else would have to get up to go to the bathroom sometime during the lecture and wouldn’t come back. The academic nature of the field of study makes it less appealing than reading and contemplating the Bible or listening to a sermon, but it that aspect which also makes it so powerful. I am in the business of solving the problem of the loss of kids from the Christian Church so when I choose my tools I don’t choose based on the easiest to carry or the most stylish, I pick them based on what works the best. The apologetics tool may be a bit heavier, but it works – and it is fascinating.
The Glorious Process
In the process of learning the evidence supporting the Christian claims, apologetics will take you through scientific and historic subjects and engage you in philosophical logic. You will begin to connect the dots between what you see in the world around you and the mighty power of our God. You will be able to walk your children along the same path, which leads to making a real decision for Christ. The evidence reduces the gap between skepticism and faith. The bridge that they have to build from what they know to what we tell them is necessary for faith in the Christian worldview becomes shorter and shorter as they learn.
If I Don’t Know the Answers
Perhaps this article is finding you at the place I was when I was first convicted to begin my study. I engaged in the study of apologetics because I couldn’t answer the questions that I knew the world was going to throw at my children. And if I couldn’t answer those questions, then I knew my kids couldn’t answer those questions. And if my kids could not answer those questions then they were at risk of leaving the faith. Chances are your kids don’t know the following.
- They don’t know why evil exists in this world how a loving and merciful God could allow suffering.
- They don’t understand that there is no evidence for the theory of evolution in spite of it being taught as a fact in school.
- They don’t know that there is great evidence that the Bible is the accurate eye-witness accounts of the events, and that it hasn’t changed since it was written.
- They don’t know that the Universe, according to overwhelming scientific evidence had a beginning, and that a beginning demands a beginner, a Creator, a Cause.
- Your kids don’t understand that it is possible to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Christ rose from the grave and appeared to the disciples and over 500 other witnesses.
Their Intellect Demands Answers
Your kids are going into high school without the answers that they need. They are going into the world without the answers to the questions that they need. Their intellect demands these answers, and they want them answered even though they don’t ask you. There is no time like today to begin your incredible journey into learning about the evidence for the Christian faith. Though the area requires study, is your child’s salvation worth overcoming any hesitancy about the work ahead? Your child is waiting to be saved.
Stay Tuned: I am in the process of completing two books due out in 2016 to address this problem. Sign up for my email updates to be the first to learn when they are released. Christian Apologetics Solution
- The first book will lay out the practical how-to steps for keeping Christian kids Christian for Churches and parents.
- The second book is a book covering 14 apologetic subjects with tools to make it as easy as possible for anyone to teach and learn.
Brace E. Barber is a Christian Apologetics Speaker focusing on teaching Churches how to immediately stop the loss of Christian kids from the Faith. See more at Christian Apologetics Speaker