Why do kids who are raised in Christian homes miss the Gospel, so many times? Why is the percentage of children who leave the church when they become adults so high?
I will only talk about one possibility, but there are many, so the reason for children departing from the church as young adults could be from a variety of causes.
The one possibility is that the parents don’t have the clear Gospel message themselves. This is just one possibility. So, if you have children who have strayed from the truth, yet you know you are born again and raised them in a good atmosphere, don’t take on guilt that doesn’t belong there, and don’t believe lies from the Enemy telling you that you aren’t really a Christian, for if you were, your children would be following the Lord. This could happen to the best of us, and it does. I might be mistaken on this, but I believe Jonathan Edwards had a wayward child. One of his descendants might have been Aaron Burr. If this is a situation like yours, you aren’t alone, but, I am trying to look at a problem, and zero in on one particular reason that could be the cause of children losing interest in the things of God.
The reason I am focusing on this aspect is simply because I have listened to many people who come from Christian environments and as I listen, I don’t hear the Gospel in anything they say, nor do I see the affects of the grace of God which comes with the Gospel in a person’s life.
If you were to go in a public setting and talk to people about the Gospel message, and you were to ask them questions about God, heaven, hell, salvation, sin, Jesus, death, eternity, etc., you would find a variety of different things that were being said. You could ask them if they consider themselves to be a good person, and they would probably say ‘yes’. They would probably admit to breaking some of the Commandments, but they would say that doesn’t make them a bad person. But some will admit to breaking them and not being a good person, but still will not see the seriousness of their sin. Many of them are quick to say that God is all forgiving and many of these people even will tell you that Jesus died for their sins, yet they are still vague in their understanding of the Gospel.
Some people assume that because they were brought up in a church environment that they are Christians. They identify with ‘Christians’ and would even have some convictions about God and their relationship with Him. But, again, many of these people fail to bear the fruit of a genuine Christian. They have some correct head knowledge, but don’t appear to have a relationship with the true and living God, who is causing them to be convicted of sin and repent. You may even find these people using language that indicates they are trying to be good or do things to please God. You will find many of these people in our mainstream denominations.
And lastly, there are people who would consider themselves Christians, who really don’t understand the character or nature of God. This will affect their whole understanding of the Gospel. For example, there are sayings about God that aren’t based upon Scripture, but upon someone’s clever ideas about what they think God is like. One saying goes like this; “Since God cannot be everywhere, he created grandmothers.” What is this quote saying? The author either believes God isn’t everywhere, or is trying to come up with a ‘cute’ saying that will be put on plaques in homes of grandmothers everywhere. This author either doesn’t understand God or doesn’t fear God and is trying to make money off his quote. Sadly this plaque ends up in homes of professing Christians in America today.
Professing Christians of old have designated sin as ‘playing cards, going to movie theaters, smoking, drinking, cussing and dancing'. In other words, sin is relegated to doing certain activities. The Bible doesn’t describe sin that way though. Sin came into the world through Adam and Eve, and it is expressed in our lives by our living self-centered lives, loving ourselves first, not loving others, and ignoring God. The only cure is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for our sins, but He also died in order for us to be changed by God’s grace. We can become new creatures in Christ. But most professing Christians, I believe, are ignorant of that fact. Not only will they suffer, but their children will suffer too. They are professing to believe in a particular thing, but in reality they believe (trust) in something else altogether. They are false converts and their children know that something isn’t right. Either their understanding of sin is incorrect or their understanding of God is off. Possibly both.
I think we can hide our sins for a little while, but eventually people will see them. This is why Jesus came down hard on hypocrisy. And this is one possibility why our children aren’t coming to know the Lord by the time they are adults. Do they see dad and mom struggling with sin and being honest about their struggles or do they see mom and dad putting on a front so people think they are something that they are not? Are mom and dad putting a standard up for their children to reach, but not teaching them that only with God’s power we can live a holy life pleasing to Him? Do we have expectations for our children that we can’t even reach, or do we ask our children to do things that we aren’t even doing?
Children see through things very well. They seem to have an eye for hypocrisy. But people who don’t know the Gospel aren’t hypocrites, are they? If they call themselves Christians, then they are putting forth an image of themselves that they want others to believe about them. If they are professing Christians who think they are saved by good works, then they will believe Christians are good people. They may be doing some good things, but their sinful hearts are still going to be shining forth for others to see. If they are professing Christians who are trusting in Jesus Christ and who realize their sin and are dealing with their own sins in humility, then they are representing Christianity based upon Scriptures. Children appreciate humility. Parents might not have all the answers to their children’s questions, but they can relate to their children with honesty and humility. They can help their children work through their sin issues, because they are working through their own sin issues.
So, this concludes one reason why children leave the church as soon as they become adults and lose interest in the things of God. There was never the interest in the first place. But, we can still remedy this dilemma. The church can really be made up of people who have repented of their sins and come to Christ. These people are ‘born again’ and are learning to live a new life in a new way. Just because there is hypocrisy, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t reality in God. The Bible says that we will find God when we search for Him with all our hearts. If we truly search for God and when we allow Him to change our hearts, I believe our children will be affected. And that is what we pray for.