I am burdened for the next generation.
Being almost qualified for the “senior” category, I’ve witnessed something going on in our churches. They're losing a large percentage of their young people—at lower ages than before. (Not all churches, you understand, but many of them.) You look at the congregations, and you see a lot of gray hair, a few families with young children, and some middle aged couples. Where are the junior high kids? Where are the teens? Where are the young adults? Oh, there are a few, but for the most part, they’re not in the church.
Why the dropout rate?
Why the dissatisfaction?
There are all kinds of reasons.
Sometimes, parents give the wrong message to their kids. The "righteousness" they display at church is just a sham. Yes, they know the Lord as Savior, but throughout the week, there’s strife in the home. There’s an unloving spirit. Kids see that, and they throw out their parents’ hypocritical religion with everything else their parents stand for.
There’s also a double standard in values. Parents will scrimp and save to furnish their kids with the best, while leaving out the better. They have a 52-inch TV, an in-ground pool, a fabulous house, patio, and outdoor grill and bar, but they aren’t teaching their kids the Bible—practically and living it. They will spend big bucks on food, entertainment, sports, and travel, but they won’t demonstrate sacrificial giving to the Lord’s work. Their values are upside down. What they do with their money and time proves that they care more about outer things than inner ones. They are showing their kids that what matters most is pleasure.
There’s also a problem with morality. Tragically, many marriages break up. There are many reasons: abuse, lust, and infidelity among them. Church children are growing up in this reality. Mom has custody, but they have to spend time with Dad, too. They are confused about relationships and marriage . . . and the confusion begins at home.
Part of the problem with morality is what’s permitted onscreen. I am, frankly, shocked that Christian parents allow their children to see movies that contain nudity, foul language, and gory violence. Many routinely watch R-rated movies with their kids, or worse: they let their kids watch whatever they want. Do they believe these pictures don’t have any influence on their children’s minds? Kids listen to music with horrible lyrics—that make any decent person blush with shame. They watch pop music videos. (I have yet to see a snippet of one of them that isn’t sensual.) Parents give their kids unmonitored access to online junk. So, why are we surprised that our kids, brought up in church, aren’t interested any more?
I read a statistic that 70% of men in churches view porn. Is it any wonder their sons and daughters might also? Is it any wonder that Christian marriages have lost trust and passion?
Materialistic families have damaged their own progeny and their churches.
What can be done?
Thankfully, the Bible always has answers.
1. Change your priorities.
- Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37).
- But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).
2. Tithe and give.
- And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all (Genesis 14:20).
- Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (Malachi 3:8, 10).
- Jesus said, But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (Luke 11:42).
- Sacrificial giving, above the tithe is taught in Luke 21:1-4 and 2 Corinthians 8:2.
3. Obey God in your home.
- Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. . . . So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. . . . Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:22-26, 28, 33).
- Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4).
4. Make new rules for entertainment.
- I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? (Job 31:1)
- I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me (Psalm 101:3).
- Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
- Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).
Children naturally follow the values of their parents. Do you show your children that you love God first and foremost? Or are some of your values misplaced?
Why are young people turning their backs on church? Perhaps, it’s because they don’t see that it did us any good.
May God help us show them differently!