Why you shouldn’t let your kids figure out faith on their own

Photo credit cehofstra1.hubspot.com

by J.C. Thompson via http://www.churchleaders.com

You will often hear nonbelievers say that parents should let their own children decide what they believe. They say this, while the school, the media and the nonbelieving people are indeed telling our children what to believe. J. C. Thompson makes the case for why we need to teach our children the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Here’s J. C. Thompson:

Kids owning their faith is the goal, right? Why is it that we think that “allowing” kids to figure it out on their own is the solution?

One of the things that I begin to see happen in the dynamic between students and their parents is that students begin to fight against faith practices. Parents usually approach it in one of two ways: they fight it creatively or they step back and let kids “figure it out”.

As a youth pastor it’s a frustrating thing, because figuring it out sometimes really means the family stops practicing faith altogether. I don’t know if it’s because parents were just keeping faith practices happening because of the kids or it’s so frustrating and painful that they stop because it’s too hard to keep pushing their students to grow in their faith.

A couple of insights into young teens when it comes to faith:

1. This is the first time that students begin to see their sin as real. It’s so important that they know what to do with it. Unfortunately, a lot of the times, they hide, seek to comfort themselves, or run. All of these we see played out in the story of Scripture. They must understand, hear, see, how to properly deal with sin. Sometimes their pushback is because they are trying to hide rather than they “hate” going to church.

2. Their questions go unanswered. Young Teens or preteens ask why more than any other question. It’s the most important question to answer as a family. Why church? Why Jesus? Why the Bible? Our faith is based on the gospel. Bring them back to that. God made us beautiful. We became evil. Jesus died. He came back. No one can prove He didn’t even though it’s the most important question in the world.

3. Friends. They influence everything. Find good ones for your kids and invest in them. Do the most fun things with those friends. Constantly invite them places. You are responsible for helping your student make connections. Find them. Show up to their youth group and find good friends for your student.

Then Thompson gives 3 reasons why you should not let them figure it out on their own:

  1. You didn’t figure out faith on your own. Neither did anyone else in Scripture.
  2. Preteens and young teens are hormone-enraged emotional crazy people.
  3. Wisdom = Truth + Experience

Read the entire article here http://www.churchleaders.com

Traits of youth who do not leave the church

This is a very helpful article on church leaders.com which gives 3 traits of those young folks who do not walk away from the church. It is written by Jon Nielson, who is the senior high pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. Read the article in its entirety here – http://www.churchleaders.com/youth (Photo credit www.workingworld.com)

*Trait # 1 – They are converted

The Apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room. Listen to these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) We youth pastors need to get back to understanding salvation as what it really is: a miracle that comes from the glorious power of God through the working of the Holy Spirit.

We need to stop talking about “good kids.” We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. How many of us are preaching to “unconverted evangelicals”?

*Trait # 2 – They have been equipped, not entertained.

Christ gives us—teachers—to the church, not for entertainment, encouragement, examples, or even friendship primarily. He gives us to the church to “equip” the saints to do gospel ministry in order that the church of Christ may be built up.

If I have not equipped the students in my ministry to share the gospel, disciple a younger believer, and lead a Bible study, then I have not fulfilled my calling to them, no matter how good my sermons have been. We pray for conversion; that is all we can do, for it is entirely a gracious gift of God. But after conversion, it is our Christ-given duty to help fan into flame a faith that serves, leads, teaches, and grows. If our students leave high school without Bible-reading habits, Bible-study skills, and strong examples of discipleship and prayer, we have lost them. We have entertained, not equipped them…and it may indeed be time to panic!

Trait # 3 – Their parents preached the gospel to them.

As a youth pastor, I can’t do all this. All this equipping that I’m talking about is utterly beyond my limited capabilities. It is impossible for me to bring conversion, of course, but it is also impossible for me to have an equipping ministry that sends out vibrant churchmen and churchwomen if my ministry is not being reinforced tenfold in the students’ homes. The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded 20-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central. The 20-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents made them go to church. They are kids whose parents punished them and held them accountable when they were rebellious. They are kids whose parents read the Bible around the dinner table every night. And they are kids whose parents were tough but who ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.

This is not a formula! Kids from wonderful gospel-centered homes leave the church; people from messed-up family backgrounds find eternal life in Jesus and have beautiful marriages and families. But it’s also not a crapshoot. In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their home with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church. The words of Proverbs 22:6 do not constitute a formula that is true 100 percent of the time, but they do provide us with a principle that comes from the gracious plan of God, the God who delights to see his gracious Word passed from generation to generation: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Youth pastors, pray with all your might for true conversion; that is God’s work. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry; that is your work. Parents, preach the gospel and live the gospel for your children; our work depends on you.

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