As the writer in this article points out, there have been several books written in recent years regarding children who grow up active in the church, only to leave when they become adults. These books reference the research that has been completed by the Barna Group. www.barna.org The Barna Group found that a paltry 20% of young adults (those in their 20's) maintain the same level of activity in the church as had been experienced in their teens. Young adults are leaving the church in droves!
A few of the books worth reading:
"Already Gone" by Ken Ham
"Almost Christian" by Kenda Kreasy Dean
"You Lost Me" by David Kinnaman
While each of these writers do an excellent job of describing the problem, I felt they fell somewhat short by not making the solution perfectly clear. What do we do to ensure that our kids are prepared? How do we impact these horrendous numbers? Many are going to respond with "we need to meet the kids at their level... we need to engage the kids and help the them to connect." This will be followed with suggestions for more social events and entertainment. There will be recommendations for more ice cream parties, pizza parties, and concerts - as if we do not have enough of these already. Now this is the point where I say, "don't get me wrong." So don't; kids are kids and the church should host these events, but is there a youth group in America that has not made these type of events a focus of their ministry? Entertainment is the priority. More of the same focus in these ministries will result in more of the same - the vast majority of young adults will leave the church.
It is time for a change. It is time to go to the Word for guidance on how to raise our children. Proverbs tells us to "train up" our children. We are to teach them to value the Bible, and then we teach them the principles found in the Bible. Spiritual maturity is the result of teaching children bible doctrine and not the result of entertainment. The spiritually mature do not leave the church.
Now some will respond with the same ol' tired argument that our kids will get bored, they do not want to study the bible. When the bible instructs parents on how to "train up" their children, are there any qualifiers? Does it say anywhere that we should only instruct them if they want to be trained? Does it say that we should only train them to the point of boredom? No, parents are to teach their children bible doctrine and as the Proverbs says, "and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Human viewpoint will encourage the church to provide more social events and entertainment. Those churches that value God's divine viewpoint will follow God's plan for raising children. The church that produces spiritually mature active adults will be the church that offers opportunity for Christian fellowship, but the number one priority will be training children in bible doctrine.