- Religion and Philosophy
Children: The World Aborts, the Church Abandons!
Where Have All The Flowers (Children) Gone?
Where Have All The Children Gone?
Statistics, statistics, statistics!
Pete Seeger wrote the song "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" in 1956 and is best remembered by Peter, Paul and Mary's rendition in 1962. To him it was a social and political statement for which he would receive Hall of Fame honors as being one of the best of that genre. A tragedy has occurred over the last 50 years or so within the American Christian community: children have left the fold of the "church" to never return in alarming numbers. I am one that is very skeptical of statistics, though my profession as an analyst is heavy into statistics; but when several sources seem to arrive at the same consensus, it is time to take note. For example:
- Life Way Research: young adults (17-19) 70% drop out upon leaving home with only 35% returning, less than 25% of the original attendance.
- Barna & USA Today: 70 to 75% drop out after high school.
- Southern Baptist Family Life Council 2002: 88% drop out.
- Assembly of God: 66%
- Higher Education Institute @ UCLA: 52% of students attended before enrolling in college, by the junior year only 29% still attended some form of services, a 44% decrease.
- Fuller Youth Institute College Transition Project: 40 to 50% drop out after enrolling in a college or university.
What was their general findings?
- Per the Barna Group less than 1% of young adults have a Biblical world view, defined as: 1) Absolute moral truth exists, 2) Bible is inerrant, 3) Satan exists, 4) Works won't save you, 5) Jesus lived a sinless life and 6) God is creator and reigns over all.
- Per the Fuller Youth Institute: the youth cannot find a "safe" place within the world at large, prepared by neither home nor church for what they would encounter.
- Barna & USA Today findings: the church has become irrelevant because children have not been taught nor equipped to test anti-christian ideals. Over 50% of college professors view "christian" students unfavorably and are 5 times more likely to identify themselves as atheists.
The question we now need to ask ourselves is this: What is it that WE have NOT done and/or ARE doing that has precipitated this exodus from within our churches? I believe there are three basic issues that are the bedrock of this disappearing act among our youth.
Rob Bell Quote: "The Bible Has Caused So Much Damage"
#1 The "Church" Has Become Worldly and Weak.
The Worldly Church Goes Ultra-Mainstream
Excerpt from a recent on-line article from "Newsmax.com":
"The average megachurch in America has the production sensibilities of a Grammy award-winning performer, the thoughtfulness of a famous professor or lecturer, the business-savvy of a multinational Fortune 500 company, the philanthropic effect of a global NGO, and the supernatural spirit that pops right off the text of the Bible’s Book of Acts. They are almost all conservative theologically and politically (think 95 percent), but they have varying degrees of comfort with making politics an issue in the pulpit. Yet, if you pin any of them down, they almost always embrace traditional values.... Megachurches are the spiritual phenomenon of the 21st century; there are more churches with 5,000 people attending weekly services than at any other time in history. So much for those who claim ad nauseam that faith is declining in our country."
Newsmax's Top 50 Megachurches in America | Newsmax.com
The "supernatural spirit" (lower case "s") as pointed out in the above article, is right on the nose; sadly, it has NOTHING to do with the Holy Spirit. As Ephesians points out; "we do NOT war against flesh and blood but against...."; Ephesian 6:12 and it appears the American church is losing this battle. Do not despair, God has His own who have not bowed down before false gods of easy believe-ism and feel good homilies. Contrary to their finding of faith abounding because of these worldly gatherings; it is a faith that cannot save men's souls but cheers them along as they stroll their way into hell. Only eight were on the ark; it is blessed to be among the few rather than with the many.
As I began this point with a couple of quotes from a very popular Rob Bell: today's airways, book stores and the pulpits are filled with the likes of Joel Osteen, Rick Warrens and multiple wealthy individuals espousing success for the faithful church goer. Though there are many times the amount of much smaller churches and fellowships, the cancer of a "new" gospel has spread to every city, town and village of this country. Bigger is better, friendlier is better, less convicting is better, more accepting is better, more entertaining and relevant is much better. Don't forget a coffee bar! A local church where I live has dictated that whole assembly, from the pulpit and Sunday classes included, will be studying the 40 Days of Prayer by Rick Warren. He is the master of manipulating scripture to make a point. As Robert Schuller (Possibility Thinking) was the protégé of Norman Vincent Peale (Positive Thinking); so Warren (Purposeful Thinking) is the protégé of Schuller. An old message, repackaged for today's crowds who love to have their ears tickled.
What does this have to do with our children? - EVERYTHING! We have left the basic principles of the Word, and have dragged our sons and daughters into the morass of directionless confusion. It is a wonder that any of our children attempt to live a godly life in the face of such contradictions of doctrine: too many voices which lack consistency. It took me a while to figure this out myself; as it became a Sunday ritual on the ride home or around the dinner table, that I was "deprogramming" my family from what they had heard or learned that day. My abhorrence with the "youth" group mentality has grown steadily over the past several years and as I shall relate in my point #3; it will not abate until I am with the Lord.
Can You Tell The Believer From The Non-believer?
#2 A Large Number of Faithful "Church-Goers" Are Not Saved.
Weak and worldly churches attract crowds who desire acceptance from God on their terms!
When a person is born-again, as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17, they are a NEW creation - the old is passed away. Pursuing the world will never again satisfy their deepest needs for joy, peace and fulfillment. Fear of death and judgment will haunt those who have only a head knowledge of God and eternity: church can become like alcohol to a drunk, constantly needing more "spiritual" affirmation to hold their fears at bay. In todays churches it is easy to fit in: for the smaller church - be a regular service attender, tithe well, agree with the doctrine espoused from the pulpit and get involved with as many extra-curricula activities as possible. It is so much easier when it comes to the mega churches; nothing is required because so few even acknowledge your presence, let alone care anything about your personal doctrines. Very much like "guilt by association"; they become havens for masses of the unsaved to fit in and feel good about themselves for a season.
Sadly, we are so eager to believe that another is saved, discernment is placed on the back burner and anomalies are never broached, such as:
- Lack of fundamental biblical knowledge; no reference point of conversion; absence of a life-changing testimony, never involved in any meaningful Bible study.
- Lack of conviction over sin issues, not easily offended by sinful practices.
- Politics of the age are a major factor in their beliefs, science supersedes the literal Word of God, worldly pursuits are more important than godly fellowship.
- Questionable business and/or work ethics, equate morals as godliness and no problems with "other" religions.
- When confronted with a doctrinal issue lapses into a "deer staring into headlights" syndrome.
How do they get by in the "Christian" world?
- Big on Christian lingo, quotes the preacher's pet issues and lot of "out of context" Bible snip-its; never a complete passage.
- Reads books written by supposed Christian superstars, plays the latest worship music when others are around.
- Is a genuinely nice person, helpful to a point, never questions another's beliefs and guards their actions and words very closely.
- Last, but not least: there are good odds that they are playing this game with another game player.
Some of these points could indicate a "babe" in Christ, the difference is that the babe has a testimony of a specific time in their life when a miracle happened. They KNOW they are not the same person they were before conversion; not perfect, but on a course in life they never imagined they would have ever followed.
In our churches today there two types of an ever growing number: the lost and the starved. They have no one to blame but themselves but another phenomena is also now taking place: more and more Christians are awaking from the doldrums, realizing that something is amiss. Slowly, little by little they are separating themselves, searching for genuine fellowships that center their ministry around the Word and godly living. The real tragedy of our day and age is that the "staff" of so many churches have become fat, dumb and pleased with their lot in life; they have become blind guides leading the multitudes into biblical apathy.
What does all this have to do with abandoning our children? Voila, point number 3.
We Are Seeing Fruit Of Our Spiritual Demise.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do?
#3 How Christians Have Abandoned Their Children.
In America and around the world the majority of children are abducted by the state mandated system of education and we, as Christians, have readily abandoned our parental responsibility for our children's future. Why?
- We have bought the mantra - state run education = success, and
- We have bought the American dream; which largely requires two wage earners to achieve the desired results.
How successful is the current state of college graduates? An 2012 article in the Atlantic Daily cited the following:
About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields. Out of the 1.5 million who languished in the job market, about half were underemployed, an increase from the previous year.
As far as the two wage earner situation is concerned; all you have to do is look around you to see how successful that has become: nicer houses, nicer cars, clothing, things and most important, nicer kids?? - oops. The nicer "things" of this world which are so important to you, have given your children an education that runs far deeper than anything else you espouse. Why be godly, if the nicer things in life come by one's self-importance and hard work.
The first quote by Spurgeon which addresses the "church" softening its stance on biblical doctrines and becoming more world friendly, is being fulfilled before our eyes this very day. This September 19th, I will have been a born-again Christian for 50 years: the changes I have seen take place within the Church community over these many years is at times heart breaking and at the same time maddening. Likewise, I have seen the role model of the "Christian" parent descend to an all time low and yet they sit and wonder - what did I do wrong?, where did I miss the mark?, what should I have done? when their children appear to have abandoned the faith. There are so many factors but I will only note three and address the third:
- The Word stopped being preached and taught with conviction - Satan's foot was in the door.
- The Church embraced the American dream; bigger was better and there was money to be made - Satan was in the pew.
- The emphasis shifted to become "youth" oriented, shelve the older generation for wisdom was no longer required, spoon feed the parents baby food and take command of the training of the children - Satan is now in charge.
Come One, Come ALL!
D.. The Doctrine and Full Speed Ahead!!!!!!!!
In the late 60's and into the 70's, a new phenomena stormed the bastion once known as the Church. It was called the Jesus Movement; hippies looking for a new avenue of exploring life and finding fulfillment. Another trend that came to fruition in the Bible schools and seminaries at the same time, was the introduction of the "youth" pastor; trained and equipped to deal with this new found direction of reaching the world's young people. Of course, to become attractive to this new breed of youth, the church HAD to adapt - make solid biblical doctrine a secondary issue, so as to not frighten the newcomers away. What I personally witnessed during this great transition:
- Modesty was greatly compromised.
- Sexual promiscuity was a norm among the young adults.
- Music avoided doctrine and had become religious folk music, repeated phrases and a lack of the name of Jesus being present.
- Serious Bible study was replaced by grade school level books that were geared to the youth alone. Growth was not the object.
- Activities became the predominant structure of the purpose of the youth groups: camping, hiking, canoeing, games and the like. Believe it or not, these are actual classes being taught at mainline "Bible" schools; you wouldn't want your youth pastor to be ill equipped.
- Eventually, the Jesus Movement became passé; those who remained took on a more "mainline" appearance, write and perform most of today's "Christian" music, write some of the latest, hottest books and have settled into the American dream, funded mainly by ignorant church-goers and some deceived Christians.
How many of today's church going parents, blindly and automatically turn their children over the youth department for their biblical training? It gets worse; how you may ask?
- One of the main targets for the youth pastor, is to reach the local unchurched youth. Sounds altruistic, but they are sacrificing the believer's children with their parents approval. 1 Cor. 15:33 starts with "Do not be deceived...", yet our pastors feel it is appropriate to invite the lost into both our children's and youth classes without your knowledge. Their justification is that the lost need to fellowship with believers' children and see the good side of life. I have yet to see a clean pig stroll through the mud and the mud be cleaner for the effort. We have been deceived and our children are paying the price for our neglect. In time, it will be the parent that will pay the final price for abandoning their offspring to another's misguided effort.
- Every one of us will be judged solely by our faithfulness or the lack thereof. We have not only abandoned our children in the most critical time period of their lives, we have abdicated our God given role as their caretaker in all things spiritual. Our children will not answer for our failures, but they may very likely pay an unthinkable price, due in part to our failures.
- Why should our children continue to follow God, if they perceive as Spurgeon quoted, that we did not go the Way of our own instruction.
I have 10 children, one of which is waiting for me in heaven. Why do I bring this up? Several years ago I changed by life-verse from 2 Chronicles 16:9 to 3 John 4. Today my youngest daughter texted me asking where she could find that verse I quote often that starts with "I have no greater joy...". Joy filled my heart at that moment in the midst of writing this article. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my CHILDREN walk in the Truth." May God bless.