Fresh off my post challenging parents to embrace a “whole” Gospel for their children, which includes the mission of Jesus for sinners, I now read further evidence that children are in fact falling away from the church in increasingly alarming rates. The article notes that 16 is the magic number. They are being pulled away by Facebook and other priorities. While the first instinct is to then pull away Facebook and other things from our teens, which may be necessary, let us not confuse the removal of external “distractions” as the equivalent to heart sanctification and Gospel transformation. While it may be healthy and necessary for such distractions to be removed, mere behavioral modification is not our goal…for even that is fear-based. This should not be confused with addition by subtraction, it is simply subtraction.
The Gospel calls us not only to “put off” but also to “put on”. Our Christian faith must not be measured by what we don’t do as much as it is measured positively by what we do do. This “doing” is impossible and requires the grace of God. We need to teach our children to rely on the grace of God for their sanctification. This also requires that we parents are living out our sanctification positively as “new creations” in Christ. If this radically nature of the Gospel is not modeled and taught, then our kids will removed themselves from the “vine” because they never relied upon the vine in the first place for their life. It will be seen that our kids were simply trying to please the moral platitudes of their parents and simply viewed Christianity as a religion for the sake of morals. Once they find their identity at 16 0r so and realize that the Church has already accomplished it’s perceived goal and basically telling us how to be a good person, these teens will bid farewell to the Church and instead enter into a life where they simply seek to be a “good” person who treats people well, confusing that with what it truly means to be Christian. This is the great tragedy today and the only way one can explain how some 80% of Americans view themselves as “born-again” Christians while at the same time declaring the Church to be irrelevant.
© 2010, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.