Father’s day is upon us once again. Happy Father’s Day to all of you dad’s out there! If you know a good dad who has been a blessing to his children, make sure you show him some love this weekend. Dads are so important to their kids’ spiritual development, and they can definitely make the difference in whether children stay on a spiritual path or stray off the beaten path.
I recently went to a church function where the question was asked in an open forum, “Why do many young people grow up in a Christian home, leave the nest, and fall away from the faith?” It is true that plenty of kids raised in homes with Christian parents leave home and want nothing to do with God. But sometimes you can be the most loving, Christlike parent in the world, and your kid will still go AWOL when it comes to Christianity. Look at God, for example. He was the perfect parent and Adam and Eve still messed up.
At the forum, I was able to listen to the opinions of other brothers and sisters in Christ who have children. After pondering on what I heard and boiling down the information, I came to the conclusion that there are three things that parents must do if they want to keep their kids on the straight and narrow:
- Teach them how to apply the Word of God to everyday life. When youngsters are taught to apply the Word to everyday situations they face, they will see results. The Word of God will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). When they see that the Word works in their lives and the lives of their parents, kids will get the sense that God is real and will continue to grow in their faith. They will continue to serve Him and apply the Word to their lives even after they leave home and beyond.
- Represent God accurately through effective parenting. Parents are the physical representation of God in a child’s life. God the Father must be portrayed as the loving, merciful, non-judgmental friend and mentor that He is. In homes where judgement, condemnation, and conditional love abound, kids get an inaccurate view of Who God is. When God is not represented properly, there is no emotional intimacy in the relationship between children and parents, and that’s the root of rebellion. In fact, Josh McDowell said it best: “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”
- Encourage them to develop a relationship with Christ. When children are taught that Christianity is about “joining the church,” getting baptized, keeping rules, singing in the Choir, and participating in Sunday School programs and the youth group instead of building a relationship with Jesus, when they leave home, they will be more likely to abandon their faith. Young people need to know how to have an effective quiet time with God each day where they pray, wait on the Lord, and read and meditate on the Word. They need to be taught Who the Holy Spirit is and how to hear and obey His voice. Thus, when kids have built a relationship with Jesus, when they leave home, as the scriptures say, they will be trained up in the way they should go, and when they are old they won’t depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
In summary, once children leave the home, they are subject to hearing many worldly trains of thought and ideas that are contrary to the Word of God. That is why they must be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Young people must be firmly rooted and grounded in the Word of God, having read it, applied it to their own lives and experienced its power at work. They must encounter accurate models of God in their homes or have godly mentors outside the home who will draw them to the heavenly Father. Finally, they must have a relationship with Jesus and know Him as Savior and Friend. When children are encouraged to develop spiritual disciplines, as opposed to blindly following rules and regulations with no emphasis placed on the development of a loving relationship, they will be more likely to stay connected to the Vine, Jesus Christ, and bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God.
What are your thoughts about why kids leave a Christian home and abandon their faith? Please leave a comment below.
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