My wife and I are alarmed by the reports we’ve heard of the number of teenagers raised in the church but who abandon their faith after high school. Should we be concerned and what can we do as parents to make sure this doesn’t happen to our children?
Parents have good reasons to be alarmed. A recent Barna Group and USA Today study found that nearly 75% of Christian young people leave the church after high school.
As I prayed about how to best answer your question, God brought to mind the example of my parents. Consistent with the clear teaching of Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, they didn’t just take me to church and talk about the truth . . . they modeled it.
I wasn’t forced to get up early in the morning to read my Bible and pray. Yet forever etched in my mind is the vivid picture of when I did get up seeing my father in his bathrobe either reading the Bible or praying.
When I was wrong they corrected me. When I was disobedient they disciplined me. When I made a mistake they forgave me. When I sinned they reminded me of the need for repentance and the fact of God’s grace. When I was overcome with discouragement they listened and encouraged me.
They let me see their weaknesses as well as their strengths. When they were wrong they admitted it and apologized. They allowed me to see the process of sanctification and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
What do our children see when they look at us? What do we model? Do they see a mom and dad or single parent who has a visible love for God and for His Word and His people? Do they see I Corinthians 13 in action? Do they know that our love for them is not based on their performance? Do they learn how to express their God-given emotions? Do they have healthy examples of problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills? Are they getting a clear idea of what it means to be a male or female who is made in God’s image?
Most of all, do they see the fruit of an intimate, passionate love relationship with Jesus? Do they see a faith that makes a difference? The lifestyle our children see us model day in and day out is much more powerful than what they are told. Both are important. But there must be congruity between the talk and the walk.