Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash
Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash

Parenting Children to be Christian Adults

Question

We’ve read research and seen real-life examples with some of our friends regarding the high number of kids raised in a Christian home who leave their faith after high school.  How serious is this?  Should we be concerned?  What can parents do?

Answer

The bad news is that you have good reasons to be concerned. Numerous studies over the past 15 years have found that between 75% to 88% of Christian young people leave the church after high school.

The good news is that there is a lot that we as parents can do.

In 1977, I first heard what would become a multi-million selling love song, What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life.  From the first time I heard it I remember thinking, “That could easily have been written about the difference that Christ has made in my life.”

Several years ago the composer, Archie Jordan, confirmed to me that the song actually WAS written as a love-song to his Lord Jesus Christ.  It was a testimony to the difference Christ had made in his life.  What difference do our kids see Christ making in our lives?

Exposing our kids to sound Bible teaching is important, but it isn’t enough.  Knowing why we believe what we believe is important, but it isn’t enough. Church Swindoll once said that “Bible teaching is not like not like nuclear fallout.  Exposure to it does not equal absorption of it.”

When our kids look at us, do they see a mom and dad in whose lives Christ makes a visible, tangible difference?

Does our relationship with Christ impact who, and how and how much we love?  Are we more compassionate?  Consistent with I Corinthians 3:7, do we bear, believe, hope and endure all things?  How well do we forgive?  Listen?  Manage conflict?  Deal with disagreements?

Do they see a mom and dad who “hunger and thirsts after righteousness?”  Whose hearts break over the things that break God’s heart . . . things like caring for the widows, orphans, prisoners and the poor?  We know what they hear, but what do they see?

Our kids may debate the truth claims of Christianity, but they can’t debate the reality of what they’ve seen and experienced day-in and day-out in their home.  A mom and dad sold out to living and loving like Jesus will make all the difference in the world.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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