Anyone that knows me has heard me quote this statistic:
“92% of Christian young people will drop out of church and totally abandon their faith by their 20th birthday.” (George Barna Research, 2004).
That statistic has jolted me for the last 6 years. Why is this happening? Why are we losing our children, even though they are growing up in “Christian” homes? Well, one of the primary reasons is because of the pagan culture we live in today. We live in a culture that is in total opposition to what the Bible teaches about life and living. What does the Bible say about raising children in a way that we will not lose them? I’m glad you asked!
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
So, what does the 92% failure rate mean for America and Christians in this country?
- The United States Birthrate is 1.9 children per family.
- That means we aren’t having enough children to replace ourselves. (Obviously, we need to be at a 2 to 2 ratio.
- Yet, 92% of “Christian teens” are dropping out of church by their 20th birthday.
- So, today it takes 43 Baptists to reach just 1 Unbeliever!
- At current rate, there will only be 250,000 Southern Baptists by the year 2100 versus our current 16 million members.
These statistics are astounding aren’t they? So, what do we do? We must look to the Word of God! That may sound simplistic…but, God’s Word always has the answers. I believe the passage we read shows us five things that we must understand if we don’t want to lose our children.
#1 We must worship God without rivals
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deut. 6:4
What are rivals today? Well, I’ll give you what I think the number one rival is. Now this is strictly my opinion and I guess since it’s my blog…that’s what we’ll go with…ha! I sincerely believe the number one rival of God in our children’s lives (and ours too for that matter), is too many activities…i.e., sports, classes of all kinds, running every night of the week, etc. Now please understand I have nothing against any of these things…especially sports. I love sports and I love activities, but there must be a limit or we will never be home. Can I tell you where all my trophies are (and I was pretty good at basketball)? There all in the Wilkes County Landfill. I’ve learned that for most of us…when we were kids and we win trophies at 12, that most of the time by the age of 40 they end up in the basement or attic or the landfill.
When we are never with our kids except for running them to and fro from this thing to that…then guess who is raising our kids? Not us! It’s the teachers, coaches, etc. Is this ok? Perhaps, you might say…”They are good people.” But, guess who’s responsibility it is to raise our children? Parents…principally Dads. More on that in a minute.
Have you ever wondered why there are so few leagues that play “just” on Saturdays? Because there is not a demand for it. Christians, by and large won’t stand up and ask for one and say, “Hey, my child isn’t going to play ball or dance or cheer or whatever on Sundays.” If enough stood up…we’d see a change.
#2 We must build homes on God’s Love
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Deut. 6:4-6
Love is a decision. It is a decision of the will…a choice we make, however, it is not void of emotion or feeling…men, nor is it led by just emotion and feelings, ladies. You’ve heard the man that says, I don’t need to tell her I love her, once at the altar was good enough, if I change my mind, I’ll let her know. While that may be funny…it’s certainly the wrong philosophy!
What emotion does your children see you exhibit toward the Lord? I tell you, I try to make my kids blush at least once per week as I love and dote on my wife in front of them. Nothing out of place or wrong here…just hugs and kisses that make them say, “Aw daddy!” But, they love it. They feel secure when they see that I show love and affection for their mother and it models it for their future marriages. By the way, where do you think children learn to love God? From us!!! If we get mad and walk out on each other, then it teaches the kids that God made do the same to them.
#3 Teach them diligently (Impress it on them)
7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut. 6:7
We’ve started what’s called ROP (Rite of Passage). Learn more at www.dkevinbrown.wordpress.com. We’re excited that we’ve instituted this Scriptural program in the church I help pastor. Why do we need ROP? Well, when does a young person become an adult? Well, we don’t seem to know. So, we, the church want to help. But, it’s not the churches job to do the work of raising everyone’s child. The Bible tells us that parents are responsible for raising the children…not the schools, coaches, teachers or, again, the churches.
But, it goes deeper than that. We say it’s the parents’ job to raise the children, but do you know who Moses was talking to specifically here? He’s using the masculine singular in this passage in Deut. 6? And that means the Lord is principally talking the Fathers and tells the Fathers it’s their responsibility to lead. You say this is Old Testament.
Well, Ephesians 6:1-4 tells us something very important…particularly look at verse 4.
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Who’s the direction given to? The Fathers! Do you see that? It’s the Father’s job to lead out in the training and instruction of the Lord! Boy have we missed that in our culture! Please hear my heart. It’s not the church’s job to disciple your children. Anything the Bible tells you to do that I, as a Pastor or the church, does for you, in essence, serves to cripple you and impair you from doing your job. I or other pastors are simply crippling you and ultimately, (speaking for myself), I’m being disobedient to the Word.
Have you ever thought about this? What we make our children crave, love and desire is more important and has more impact on their lives than what we make them learn? You may need to read that again. What do your children crave and desire? If it’s not God and the things of God, then you have a priority problem in your home.
# 4 Mark your home as God’s territory
8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deut. 6:8-9
I encourage people to place verses of Scripture on their bathroom mirrors, the walls of their houses in frames, etc. Even make smells in your house mean something. Pictures on the walls should depict your home as marked territory of God. As believers in Christ we should say, “I’m not going to have anything in my house that doesn’t point to Jesus and show that we are His children.” Make it a goal to touch all the senses of your children in your home. We have lasagna quite often on Sunday’s for lunch, because it cooks in the oven while we’re gone and the children associate the smell of Lasagna now with the Lord’s Day. Isn’t that neat?
Another example is my old Bible that has duct tape on it because I’ve worn the cover off and my children grab for it first during devotion time because they think it’s neat. That old Bible has “marked” their minds that Daddy loves the Word of God…which I sincerely do!
#5 Keep your prosperity in check
10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; 15 for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Deut. 6:10-15
This is simple. Our children don’t want things…they want you! Did you see what happened? The people got all the stuff and they forgot God. It’s happened in America too. By the way, you’ve seen the poster that says, “He has the most toys in the end wins.” Well the truth is, “He who has the most toys in the end still dies!”
As another side note, (this is for the ladies who may be reading this), it’s ok to want to and have the desire to spend your time raising your family. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This used to never be questioned. 75 years ago…when this nation had a lot less…all the mommies stayed home and took care of their families. Now look at what we have? We’ve gotten “wealthy” and prosperous with our two-income families (trying to have it all) and look at the moral decay of our nation. Now, don’t misquote me and say that just because women have gone en masse into the workforce over the last 75 years that is the reason why the country is sliding into moral decay. But, I promise you…isn’t hasn’t helped. It is God’s ultimate and first purpose for women to be able to manage and care for the home as the first priority. Titus tells us so.
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5
By the way, it’s ok to come home from work at quitting time too, dads! One of our biggest problems is that we’re like hamsters running on a wheel. We are all running around crazy and are worn out and tired and beat to death. I just read a statistic last week that said kids, when asked what they wanted most from their parents, wanted them to not be so stressed out and tired all the time. That’s pretty amazing. Of all the things they could have wanted and that’s what crept to number one.
One last thing…do you know what else the study revealed. It was simply…this: If you were to ask your child if they could trade more of Dad and Mom in the home for more house, more vacations, more stuff, more gadgets and trinkets (those are my words for what was said to be “material possessions”), what do you think the kids would say they wanted? They said, “No. I’d take more mom and dad.” Don’t believe this is true? Just ask them. They want you! I promise.
So, how do we make sure we don’t lose our kids to the world? We must: #1 Worship God without rivals, #2 Build our homes on God’s love, #3 Teach them diligently, #4 Mark you home as God’s territory and #5 Keep your prosperity in check. I’d add one last thing…pray, pray, and pray some more…for all you are worth! We’re in the battle of a lifetime for our children. Let’s not lose them! The statistics are stacked against! But, we can do all things through Christ and we’re more than conquerors…but, we better prioritize our lives if we want to have our kids in the 8% that remain faithful and serve Christ.
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