Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer provides some scary statistics regarding youth who claim to be Christian until they graduate high school. The sub-title to the book is very telling: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it. The authors state that 2/3 of kids who are currently attending church WILL drop out when they finish high school. According to their research, the number one reason given for leaving the church was that the service was "too boring." Lifeway did similar research and found the greatest reason for dropping out of church to be "indifference."
While these two reasons may initially sound trivial; they are actually very telling and provide a reasonable explaination of why so many people claim to know Christ, but live and behave differently. Think about our culture for a moment. People expect constant gratification. Virtually everything and everyone we interact with on a daily basis is there to serve us. From the time we wake up, until the time we lay our head down at night we are being served. It's done through our mobile devices, vehicles, stores and their clerks, suppliers at work, and even our families and friends! I would even argue from a biblical standpoint that our default mode is one of selfishness.
The authors argue that teens are dropping out due to a lack of strong apologetic teaching in the church. When Bible truths are presented as "stories" and theories such as evolution are taught as truth, it is no wonder people are confused! Students spend about 30-40 hours a week learning in a secular setting, while the most that the average teen could spend at the average SBC church is 4-6 hours a week. I'm certainly not arguing to flip those numbers, but simply to recognize that if we place the responsibility upon others to teach our children, we shouldn't be surprised as to who will have more credibility.
I too agree that a lack of strong apologetic teaching is present in our families and churches. I have another theory that I'm currently testing out. It's incredibly depressing, but it's proving to give more insight than the lack of apologetic teaching. I believe that many of the issues that churches have do not go back to a boring service, indifferent members, or even apologetics. I believe it is a gospel issue. I preached recently on Mark 4 and the parable of the soils. I proposed that according to scripture, a mark of a believer is multiplying oneself. After the sermon, an older gentleman said that he was encouraged by the sermon, but wished I had spent more time telling them how to share the gospel. I'm a huge proponent of evangelism training, but I often wonder "how many trainings has the average Christian been too versus the number of times they have shared the gospel?" (I'm not mad, just thinking...).
Here's why I believe it's a gospel issue: I've been doing an informal survey in the Bible Belt of Kentucky. Two simple questions.
It's a gospel issue not because I have asked random strangers about their knowledge of the gospel; it's a gospel issue because I've talked to enough church members and regular church attenders to know that there is an epidemic of gospel ignorance. This is the root of the problem. Whenever a person is truly born again a boring worship service is probably last on their list of worries. Indifference goes out the window. Apologetics are something to be excited for rather than a yearly must do. A complete knowledge of the gospel compels one to not only live differently, but to act upon it evangelistically, apologetically, and in a multiplying manner.
Parents, there's a good chance your teen will leave the church when they leave for college. Combat this by not only clearly explaining the Good News of the gospel, but living it out in front of them! Do they see God's Word as a paper weight, or the guide book for all of life? Are you witnessing each week and discussing the encounters over dinner? Are you actively discipling someone in your local congregation or community? Do you place a high value on weekly worship and fellowship regularly outside of church with believers?
Pray with me that we will not only raise up our children in the Lord, but will encourage and challenge other Christians to do the same. Pray with me that we will be bold in explaining the gospel; both within and outside the church. This generation and next depend upon it!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.