Barna also suggests that most young people don’t know how faith, the Bible, and belief in God are relevant to their lives. All of this got me to thinking was I better off not growing up in a Christian home or the Church? I became a Christian at age 20. I had no religious training. My family did not force me to go to church nor did they suggest I believe in anything in regard to God or religion.
The Barna Research Group helps back this up by identifying some of the key issues that lead young people away from the Church and their faith.
The most troubling obstacle to young people is a dual message. They hear one thing at church and see a completely different story at home. In other words, the parents act one way at church and in a completely different manner at home. Young people cannot process this nor understand what is real or fake; therefore, faith and belief in Christ is not real if it cannot be lived outside of the church.
Kids are smart, and they pick up on things fairly quickly. If you say you love God and believe certain things, then it had better define your life. That means if you say you are a Christian you’d better act like a Christian and reflect the attributes of Christ. Otherwise, you are not doing your kids any favors.
I wasn’t protected from the outside world. I went to public school from the first grade to graduation. I had real world experience dealing with all sorts of kids—no safe bubble, no Christian subculture. A lot of kids that grow up in a Christian family have no idea how to relate to nonbelievers. In fact, given the first opportunity of freedom, they are more than ready and willing to leave the ranch.
Think about it. How are we going to fulfill the Great Commission if we can’t relate to people who think differently than we do?
I wasn’t treated like a kid. The worst thing we do in the church is not integrating our young people into the Christian community. Today it’s all about youth ministry and young people doing their own thing. In other words, we want them to be entertained, and maybe out of the way.
When I became a Christian, the church I first attended valued their young people. They were part of the fabric of the church. They served in every area of ministry. That’s the way it should be. Hey, they’re the future. Maybe if we got them involved earlier in life, we might not have a 70% dropout rate.
I didn’t have all of the baggage, and maybe that was a good thing. As I said, my faith was real and genuine. I had to think through the process for myself and, obviously, I made the right decision in accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior. Unfortunately for a lot of young people in Christian homes, they’re just coasting through. They don’t know what they believe or why they believe what they do believe. Most parents just assume their kids are OK. But that is the furthest thing from the truth. It’s as if everybody involved would rather not know what is really going on. It’s a recipe for disaster. So was I better off not growing up in a Christian home? Maybe. I wouldn’t recommend it, but we have to do a better job because if things continue on their current path, there won’t be any Christian homes left.