Just the other day, I ran into a neighbor while taking an evening walk with my wife. As we small talked and caught up, he shared that his teenage daughter who had recently left for college stopped going to church. She said that she was tired of the judgement and the fakeness.
My heart ached for him and his daughter. There are a lot of kids who had bad experiences at church. Who went to Christian schools, graduated and then abandoned their faith. Who grew up around Christians for years and still don’t know that they are deeply loved by God. That’s a problem—one that parents may be able to help solve if we take the time to be present and encourage our children’s faith.
Why Do Kids Leave the Church?
Half the nation currently goes to church. Now, that may seem like a lot of people, but it’s actually 20% less than it was almost 20 years ago, and the trend is continuing, according to a poll by Gallup
. Millennials and college students are actually the largest population of people saying goodbye to church. Why? The top three reasons are they left their hometown (and local church) to go to college, feel like church members are “judgemental or hypocritical”, and no longer feel connected to their church community, according to a 2015 survey by Lifeway Research
it’s our job as parents to encourage our children and pass on a legacy of faith.
Of course, God looks at the heart—not church attendance. But I’d be willing to bet there’s something going on with a kid’s faith if they are not seeking out Christian community. And while everyone needs to walk their own journey, it’s our job as parents to encourage our children and pass on a legacy of faith.
How to Help Your Kid Know God:
Teaching our children about God is not a church’s or even a Christian school’s job—it’s our (the parents’) job. While we can’t live out our children's faith for them, we can encourage them to lean into God instead of pull away by doing a few things.
Be real about your faith.If you don’t have an authentic relationship with God, can you really expect your child to? It doesn’t really make sense. So, seek God daily. Then have an open conversation with your kids about what you’re learning, wondering, or struggling with. It will show them that it’s safe for them to do the same.
Focus on your relationship.A child’s relationship with their parents or primary caretaker is the most formative one they will ever have. So much language in the Bible describes God as a parent. Obviously, no parent is perfect (can I get an amen?), but the quality of your relationship with your child does affect how they view God. Are you being present? Are you being kind? Do you have fun together? Your kid wants to have a deep connection to you. Take care of that special relationship.
Ask better questions.Do you really know your child? Sure, you might know their grade point average or what they ate for lunch at school. But a conversation about the cafeteria menu probably won’t have a lasting impact on their lives. Start asking better questions that go beneath the surface. Really get to know who your child is and how they’re doing.
the greatest mission field we have is our own home
Pray for your child.God hears your prayers! Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Pray that your child would be strengthened in their faith.
Seek God together.Getting some quality time on the calendar with our kids can be tough. We’re busy, they’re busy—everybody’s busy. But even taking a few minutes a day to pray together, share something God put on your heart, talk about what your child learned in chapel, or read from the Bible can make a huge difference for your family.
Like I said, no parent is perfect. Some days we’re lucky just to get everyone out the house on time without a major meltdown! But we can all probably have room to grow when it comes to being intentional about growing in our relationships with them and how we guide them in their faith. We can go to the ends of the earth and do a lot of really amazing things for Christ, but the greatest mission field we have is our own home.
If you would like to explore this topic in greater detail we encourage you to sign up for our Legacy of Faith
parenting classes. Your opportunity to participate begins Sunday, April 19 at 1:00 PM.
You’ll learn about communication, honor, authority, discipline, life-skills, and training in godliness in this six-week class hosted by Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Bonus:
Childcare is provided!
Chris Lane is a CCA dad and the founder and president of First Priority of South Florida. For the last 21 years, First Priority has been connecting the church to reach the campus for Christ. There are currently First Priority clubs on 245 South Florida Middle and High Schools. In the 2018–19 school year, over 5,000 students made a decision for Christ at a First Priority meeting.
Chris has been married to his wife Wendy for 27 years, they have four sons; Josh (23), Jake (20), Jonathan (17) and Josiah (15). Chris is passionate about bringing the life-changing message of the Gospel to the next generation.