The older I get, the more I have seen this and wept–young adults who were raised by godly Christian parents and who grew up in vibrant churches–simply walk away from Jesus. Some of these wayward children do so in dramatic overt rebellion, rejecting any semblance of the Christian faith. But others still display an outward appearance of godliness yet have no true love for Jesus. In either case, it’s tragic. What’s a parent to do? What should the church do? Years ago Tim Challies had an important post, “Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith."
Few things are sadder to witness than people who once professed faith leaving it all behind. This is especially true when those people were raised in Christian homes by God-fearing parents. These children were given every opportunity to put their faith in Jesus but determined instead to turn their backs on him. Why would they make such a tragic choice?
Several years ago Tom Bisset carried out a study of people who had left the faith. Wanting this to be more than a statistical analysis, he actually sat down with people to interview them and ask for detailed information on when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. As he compiled his research he arrived at the four most prominent reasons that people raised in Christian homes eventually leave Christianity behind.
- They leave because they have troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
- They leave because their faith is not working for them.
- They leave because they have allowed other things to take priority.
- They leave because they never personally owned their faith.
…As parents we are to commit ourselves to the task of raising our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, to teach them the facts of the faith, to show how it answers our questions and meets our needs, to insist that the good news of the gospel must be personally apprehended. We do what God calls us to do, we do it to the best of our abilities, and we entrust the results—and our children—to God’s good providence.
A book I would recommend for parents is Tim Kimmel’s Why Christian Kids Rebel: Trading Heartache for Hope. Even if your children have not rebelled or shown any indication of rejecting the faith, this book has some very helpful biblical counsel for all parents to consider and implement in their parenting.